Well-Known Vermont Masons
Brother Robert T. Stafford (1913-2006)
Former U.S. Senator Robert Stafford, a gentlemanly sixth-generation Vermonter and the last of an era of Republicans to touch every major rung on their way up Vermont's political ladder, died Saturday morning, December 23, 2006. He was 93.
Senator Stafford was born August 9, 1913 in Rutland Vermont. He graduated from Middlebury College in 1935 and obtained a law degree from Boston University in 1938. He married Helen Kelley in 1938.
He entered the U.S. Navy in 1942 during World War II, and rose to the rank of lieutenant commander. He reentered active duty for the Korean War in 1951 and served for an additional two years.
Stafford never lost an election during a political career that spanned 41 years. He was first elected as a Rutland County state's attorney in 1946. Then, in four successive elections from 1954 - 1960, he ran for four different offices: attorney general, lieutenant governor, governor and congressman, and won all four – a feat not accomplished in Vermont politics since. He served as Vermont’s lone congressman until 1971 when he was appointed to the U.S. Senate to fill the unexpired term of Senator/Brother Winston Prouty. He was elected U.S. Senator from Vermont in 1972, a position he held until retirement in 1989.
One of Senator Stafford’s most significant contributions while in the U. S. Senate
was his continued efforts in education. As a result, the Stafford Loan program
bears his name.
Brother Stafford was raised a Master Mason in Center Lodge No. 34, Rutland, Vermont on March 27, 1958.
Prior to Stafford’s death, Governor/Brother James H. Douglas had said of Brother Stafford,
"He is one of the finest public servants Vermont has ever known. I admire him a great deal. He is a true statesman, a champion of the environment, in particular, the Clean Water Act. He plated a vital role in making Vermont the very special place it is and encouraging the people of our state to place great value in our natural heritage and the quality of our environment."
On hearing of Stafford’s death, Douglas said, “Governor Stafford was a tremendous public servant, a man of the deepest personal integrity and someone whom I greatly admired.”
A public memorial service will be held on January 6th, 2PM, at the Grace Congregational United Church in Rutland.
For further information, please refer to the article in the December 24, 2006 Burlington Free Press