by Peter Freyne
Former Vermont Senator Robert Stafford dies at 93
By ROSS SNEYD
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -- Former U.S. Sen. Robert Stafford, a staunch environmentalist and champion of education whose name is familiar to countless college students through a loan program named for him, died Saturday. He was 93.
Stafford was surrounded by family at a Rutland nursing home when he died at 9:30 a.m., said Neal Houston, his former chief of staff.
A Republican, Stafford served two years as governor, 11 years in the House and 17 in the Senate before retiring in 1988.
Gov. Jim Douglas ordered flags lowered to half staff Saturday as he saluted Stafford. "Gov. Stafford was a tremendous public servant, a man of the deepest personal integrity and someone whom I admired greatly," Douglas said in a statement. "From the higher education finance program that now bears his name or his advocacy for clean air and water, Americans will continue to benefit greatly from his legacy of success."
Also, from U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy:
Bob Stafford was a gentle giant.
He was a patriot, in the finest tradition of the Greatest Generation. Hetouched the lives of millions of ordinary Americans through his leadership oneducation and environmental policy, in the finest tradition of public service. And he gave the nation a lifelong lesson in civility and decency, in the finesttradition of his beloved Vermont.
Bob Stafford’s vision and skill earned our respect and admiration,but his personality and character won our love. Bob was a mentor, a colleagueand a dear friend. He took me under his wing during those early years and wasenormously helpful to me, his younger, far less experienced junior colleague. Boband Helen’s kindness extended far beyond the confines of the Senateoffice buildings. Helen offered to baby sit our children when Marcelleand I were so new in town that we had nowhere to turn for child care. Our friendshipcontinued throughout the years and we have many fond memories of visiting theirhome on Sugar Hill Road.
Marcelle and I join all Vermonters, the Senate, and the nation inoffering our condolences and our abiding respect to his wife Helen, theirdaughters, and their daughters’ families.
Last March, Senator Bob was recognized with "White Rocks":
MONTPELIER — A 22,758-acre tract of recreation land in Rutland and Bennington
counties will be named to honor former U.S. Sen. Robert Stafford, R-Vt.
The recreation area will be known as "The Robert T. Stafford White Rocks National
Recreation Area." The land was designated a national recreation area in the 1984
Wilderness Act, which Stafford helped to write.
"Bob Stafford's legacy is enduring, and this is an enduring and meaningful way to
commemorate his work and his love of Vermont," said Sen. Patrick Leahy. "White Rocks is
among his most beloved natural areas in our state, and we know that he and Helen could
actually see the towering white cliff face of White Rocks Mountain from their home. This
will remind generations of future Vermonters of Bob Stafford's towering achievements, and
of the humanity of his spirit."
U.S. Sen. James Jeffords, who holds Stafford's seat, said "no monument or park renaming
can do justice to the unparalleled contributions that Senator Stafford made to both Vermont
and this nation.
"That said, naming the White Rocks area after Senator Stafford is as fitting a tribute as I can
imagine for a man who did so much to protect Vermont's natural resources and beauty,"
said Jeffords, who is retiring at the end of this year.
U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders called Stafford "a national leader on so many issues, including
education, the environment, and human rights."
Leahy, in a statement on the Senate floor, called Stafford "an absolute giant in Vermont