About the Institute

February 4, 2017

Statement on the passing of Nick Littlefield, Member of the Board and long time aide and close friend of Senator Kennedy

A memorial service for Nick will be held on March 3rd at 11 a.m. at the Sanders Theater in Memorial Hall at Harvard University. The address is 45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA. Make a donation in Nick Littlefield’s honor.

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is deeply saddened by the passing of Bancroft “Nick” Littlefield, a long-time close senior aide and trusted advisor to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. He passed away on Saturday, February 4 after a prolonged battled with multiple system atrophy, a rare form of Parkinson’s Disease.

Nick, as he was known to his many friends and colleagues, had a key hand in the passage of landmark legislation such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program which assists millions of children, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and many other key health, civil rights and education initiatives of the day. He was also one of the founding board members of the Kennedy Institute.

“Nick was a brilliant, amazingly talented and kind man. Teddy loved him dearly, and so did I,” said Vicki Kennedy, the Senator’s widow and President of the Board and co-founder of the Kennedy Institute. “This country is a better place and people who may never know his name have better lives because of Nick Littlefield. The Edward M. Kennedy Institute wouldn’t be what it is today without Nick’s commitment and leadership, and we will forever be thankful. Today is a sad day, and we send our love and deepest sympathies to Nick’s wife Jenny and their wonderful family.“

Nick was known and respected for his rare talent for bipartisan strategies for achieving progressive goals, and for his enthusiastic and often colorful advocacy for legislation that bears Senator Kennedy’s name. For example, he sang popular melodies to Senators, as a former Broadway performer, to break the ice for serious legislative negotiations. These tactics were all part of a serious purpose to further the chances of important legislation. As a result, he was widely admired by legislators and staff on both sides of the political aisle, and loved by the disability community, health proponents, and public education advocates especially in Massachusetts but also across the country.

He faced his debilitating illness with the same boundless enthusiasm and good humor that he brought to the policy world. Even after he was unable to speak and his movements were limited, he still managed to send encouraging emails to friends and colleagues. Nick served on Senator Kennedy’s staff as Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions from 1989 to 1998 which spanned the contentious period of the ambitious conservative Republican Contract with America in which Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House and President Bill Clinton was in the White House. Nick wrote of that time in a book published last year, Lion of the Senate, and described Senator Kennedy’s role in finding ways to make progress even amid strong political cross currents.

After leaving Senator Kennedy’s staff, he returned to Massachusetts where he resumed the practice of law and continued advocating for health care for all Americans. He was a key player in the passage of the prescription drug benefit in Medicare in 2003.

Nick is survived by his wife Jenny, their adult children Frank, Tom and Kate Lowenstein and six grandchildren.

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