Obituary of Judge William Wardwell Treat

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Judge William Wardwell Treat

May 23, 1918 - January 10, 2010

The Portsmouth Herald, Wednesday, January 13, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of The Portsmouth Herald and Seacoast Online.]
Judge William Wardwell Treat

NAPLES, Fla. -- Judge William Wardwell Treat, 91, died Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010, at Naples Community Hospital following a heart attack.

Judge Treat was a retired diplomat, banker, and judge who lived in Stratham, N.H., and Naples. He was born May 23, 1918, to Joshua and Clara Atwood Treat of Winterport, Maine.

He served as a public delegate to the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York by appointment of President Ronald Reagan in 1987 and in 1990 by appointment of President George Bush. At the sessions of the General Assembly, he represented the United Nations on the Third Committee dealing with issues of international human rights.

He was the husband of the former Vivian S. Baker of Providence, R.I., and the father of Jonathan B. Treat II of Belmont, Mass., and Mary Esther C. Treat of Burlington, Vt.; the grandfather of Elizabeth Treat Stetson and Hilary Thompson Treat of Washington, D.C., and Joshua Atwood Treat, of Belmont.

WE REMEMBER: In 1988, he was elected by the United Nations Human Rights Commission as the United States member of the non-political Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities at the United Nations Human Rights Centre in Geneva, Switzerland, for a term of four years. In 1990, he was named by the Sub-Commission as a special rapporteur to prepare a study concerning international standards for a fair trial with emphasis on the non-derogability of the right to habeas corpus. The study was completed in 1994 and was approved by the Human Rights Commission in Geneva in 1995.

He was appointed a judge of probate in New Hampshire in 1958 and served until his retirement in 1983. In order to improve the administration of probate law throughout the nation, he organized the National College of Probate Judges in 1968 and served as its first president.

Headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., the college now has more than 600 members. Each year the Treat Award is presented to the individual who has done the most for the improvement of probate law in the United States. Among those recipients is Justice Sandra Day O'Connor of the United States Supreme Court.

In New Hampshire, he was chairman of the New Hampshire Judicial Council and the author of a three-volume text on probate law, "Treat on Probate." Judge Treat was also active in the reformation of the local courts in New Hampshire. He was the first chairman of the Administrative Committee for District and Municipal Courts and was the author of a study "Local Justice in the Granite State," which resulted in a reorganization and consolidation of the local court system in New Hampshire.

He was the founder and chairman of Bank Meridian, a national bank with offices in Portsmouth, Exeter, Hampton and other New Hampshire Seacoast communities. It was sold in 1985 to Amoskeag Bank Shares of Manchester, N.H.

Mr. Treat also served as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and was chairman of the Towle Manufacturing Company of Newburyport, Mass. He was also a director of the Colonial Group Inc. of Boston, a mutual funds company now owned by Liberty Insurance Company, and an original director of Unitil Inc., a utility holding company which owns the Fitchburg Gas and Electric Company, Fitchburg, Mass., and the Concord Electric Company and the Exeter & Hampton Electric Company of New Hampshire.

Judge Treat was a graduate of the University of Maine and Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. He received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Maine in 1992 and the University New Hampshire in 2001. In 1991, he received the Silver Shingle Award, the highest alumni award presented by the Law School of Boston University. Plymouth College in New Hampshire awarded him the "Granite State Citizen Award" for outstanding citizenship in 1988. He established the Treat Scholarship at the University of Maine for needy students; his son, Jonathan B. Treat II, established a scholarship at the Middlesex School, Concord, Mass., in his name.

Judge Treat was chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party from 1954 to 1958, and a member of the Republican National Committee from 1960 to 1964. He served as secretary of the United States Electoral College from 1956 to 1964. He was a delegate to the Republican National Conventions in 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1988. He served as chairman of the program committee of the 1964 Republican Convention in San Francisco.

Judge Treat was a direct descendant of Governor Robert Treat, who was colonial governor of Connecticut for 40 years, and a collateral descendant of Robert Treat Paine, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was a member of the Society of the Cincinnati, the Society of Mayflower Descendants, and a former governor of the Society of Colonial Wars. He was also a governor of the American Independence Museum in Exeter, and a former trustee of Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, N.H.

He established the Treat Foundation, a family charitable trust devoted to various charitable purposes.

He had homes in Stratham and Pelican Bay, Naples. He was a member of the Tavern Club, the Union Club, and the Harvard Club, all of Boston; and the Royal Poinciana Club, the Naples Yacht Club, Bay Colony Club, and the Port Royal Club, all of Naples. He was a director of the English Speaking Union, the Harvard Club, the Forum Club of Naples, and the World Affairs Council, all of Naples.

SERVICES: A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, at Trinity-by-the-Cove, Naples. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the William Treat Scholarship Fund of the Treat Foundation (c/o Ms. Joey Stroble, P.O. Box 800, Stratham, NH 03885). In addition, a memorial service will be held in Exeter and interment at the Winterport, Maine, Oak Hill Cemetery on dates to be determined later. For online condolences, visit

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