A former Vermont legislator has died after contracting the coronavirus.
Bernie Juskiewicz, a Republican lawmaker who represented the towns of Cambridge and Waterville in the Vermont House from 2013 to 2018, died Wednesday after being hospitalized with the illness, WCAX-TV first reported.
Juskiewicz's former colleagues lamented his death on social media Wednesday, recalling him as a highly respected lawmaker whose wit and sense of humor was matched only by his dedication to improving the lives of children.
"His sharp mind, good nature, playful humor and his willingness to place service to the state above all else earned him tremendous respect," wrote House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero). "His friendship meant a lot to me."
"He had a deep passion for the young people of Vermont and worked tirelessly to improve both secondary and higher education. And, he was just a great guy," wrote former House speaker Shap Smith.
Juskiewicz began his life in Vermont in 1978 after accepting a job at IBM. He served on several local governing boards, coached youth sports and was a founding member of the United Way of Lamoille County. During his stint in the legislature, he served on the Education and Appropriations Committees and was also elected to the University of Vermont Board of Trustees, a position he still held.
In a statement to Seven Days, fellow UVM trustee Frank Cioffi called Juskiewicz "an absolute gem of a person."
"He had a gentle nature, an infectious smile, and he always conferred a respectful demeanor with anyone he interacted with," Cioffi wrote. "Vermont and UVM have lost a truly great Vermonter."
Juskiewicz leaves behind his wife, Suzan, three children and four grandchildren.
Gov. Phil Scott has ordered the state flag to fly at half-staff on Monday, April 13, in Juskiewicz's honor.
"I had the privilege of working with him during his time in the legislature and saw firsthand just how committed he was to his community," Scott said in a statement. “Although this terrible new disease took Bernie from us, the impact of his service will live on."