Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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Samuel Eugene Hoyt, states attorney for New Haven County at New Haven, met a tragic accident in Brooklyn, New York, on October 9, 1939. While on the way with his wife to visit a son, his automobile which he was driving was struck by another car, throwing him to the hard pavement, rendering him unconscious. He never regained consciousness, and a few hours later he died. Thus ended a colorful career.
Judge Hoyt was born in New Haven, where he always resided, on December 17, 1875. He was a son of Nehemiah Hardy and Emma J. Gardner Hoyt, his father being a wholesale merchant in New Haven for many years. He married Grace Alvord on June 14, 1900, who with three sons, Samuel Eugene, Jr., Spencer Steele and Alvord, survive him. His early education was in the New Haven public schools, being graduated from the New Haven High School in 1894. He immediately entered the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, and graduated therefrom in 1897 with the degree of Ph. B. He thereupon entered the Yale Law School and received the degree of L.L.B. in 1899. On his admission to the bar in the same year, he became associated with the late Isaac Wolfe, afterward a judge of the Superior Court, and the late Samuel A. York, Esq., for both of whom he formed a lifelong friendship, and they for him.
His first public office of trust was that of assistant city attorney of New Haven, which he held from 1905 to the latter part of 1908. He was later city attorney (1908-1911), judge of the City Court, New Haven, for several terms (July 1, 1911-July 1, 1913; July 1, 1917-July 1,1923). In 1925, he was appointed public defender of New Haven, which office he held until 1927 when he was appointed states attorney for New Haven County at New Haven, which office he held by successive appointments until his death.
Besides being associated with Judge Wolfe and Mr. York, he was at one time associated with William A. Bree, now clerk of the Superior Court at New Haven. From 1935 to December 1938, he was associated with him in the practice of law, his son, Spencer, and Irving Sweedler, under the firm name of Hoyt, Sweedler and Hoyt. From December, 1938, to the date of his death his son Spencer was associated with him under the firm name of Hoyt and Hoyt.
Judge Hoyt's practice was as varied as that of any lawyer. He was able, conscientious to a fault, and deeply devoted to the interests of his clients, and untiring in his efforts to serve them. Both in his private practice and in performing his duties of states attorney, his work was characterized by a spirit of honesty and fairness and sympathy for the unfortunate. Before he became states attorney, and when not a judge of the City Court, he defended many murder cases. It was not an easy matter to defend such cases at that time, as they were prosecuted by such able states attorneys as William H. Williams, later a judge of the Superior Court, and Arnon A. Alling, But Judge Hoyt was not without his successes.
One characteristic of Judge Hoyt was his ever readiness to help younger members of the bar. He was sympathetic with them in their endeavors to get started in the practice of law. This was evidenced not only by advice and encouragement, but also in a more practical way by sending clients to them, and otherwise entrusting legal work to them when occasion permitted.
"Sam," as he was genially called by all who knew him, possessed a keenly sensitive nature, but was tolerant and broad in his sympathies and above all possessed a brilliant wit and keen sense of humor. He was for two years president of the New Haven Bar Association, and for many years chairman of the New Haven bar dinner committees. Nothing pleased him more than to plan an entertainment for those functions. He loved associations with his fellow members of the bar, especially the younger men, and also others of a kindred spirit. In 1907 he joined the Second Company Governor's Foot Guard, and except for one or two short intervals, was a member of that organization to the date of his death, during which time he attained various commissions, and at his death held the rank of captain. As a member of the company he was always actively militant in its affairs, and for the pleasure of his fellow members, superintended successful theatrical and musical comedy productions, and took particular delight in arranging Christmas tree parties which were a delight to all the members.
Anything written about Judge Hoyt would be amiss if his love for athletics was not mentioned. Not particularly athletic himself, he nevertheless was fond of the "game." He was especially interested in helping and encouraging others to engage in sports. While in the law school he formed a law school baseball team and took it on a successful Easter trip through some of the southern states. After he entered the practice of law, he became interested in the development of playgrounds and recreational facilities for under privileged children in the city of New Haven, and for a long time was a member of the board of trustees of the New Haven Boys' Club. In 1938, he was elected to the presidency of the Amateur Athletic Union of the United States, which office he filled with distinction. He was
re-elected in 1939. His funeral services, held in New Haven, were attended by several noted figures in the amateur athletic field of the United States.
Judge Hoyt was a member of the Quinnipiack Club of New Haven, the New Haven Country Club, Yale Club of New York, the New York Athletic Club, and of Lodge No.25 of the B.P.O.E., of which he was a past-Exalted Ruler. He was a member of the National Fraternity of Theta Xi, and its president in 1935-6.
Active throughout his life, he was never content to let others do what was to be done. His exuberant nature made him restive if he was not lending a helping if not controlling hand in what was to be done.
Yes, "Sam" Hoyt had a colorful and active life. He was successful in the practice of law as in other fields of endeavor, and in the course of his life he made many true friends who were naturally shocked at his untimely death. They will recall and miss his kindly, genial and witty nature.