Robert Stafford, Governor, U.S. Senator

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Robert Theodore Stafford

Birthplace: Rutland, VT, United States
Death: December 23, 2006 (93)
Rutland, VT, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Bert Linus Stafford and Mable Rose Stafford
Brother of Thomas Bartlett Stafford

Managed by: Private User
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About Robert Stafford, Governor, U.S. Senator

Robert Theodore Stafford (August 8, 1913 – December 23, 2006) was an American politician from Vermont. In his lengthy career, he served as the 71st Governor of Vermont, a United States Representative, and a U.S. Senator. A Republican, Stafford was generally considered a moderate or liberal.

Stafford is best remembered for his staunch environmentalism, his work on higher education, and his support, as an elder statesman, for the 2000 Vermont law legalizing civil unions for gay couples.

Life and career

Born in Rutland, Vermont, he earned his diploma from Middlebury College in 1935; briefly attending the University of Michigan Law School, he earned a law degree from the Boston University Law School in 1938. While attending Middlebury College he joined The Delta Upsilon Fraternity.

Upon his completion of law school, Stafford immediately entered local politics, serving as Rutland County's prosecuting attorney from 1938 to 1942. In 1942, he commissioned in the Navy as a lieutenant commander, and served in active duty during World War II. He returned to Rutland County to become State's attorney from 1947 to 1951, but returned to the Navy again in 1951, serving in the Korean War from 1951 to 1953.

Returning home again in 1953, he entered Vermont statewide politics, serving as deputy attorney general for the state from 1953 to 1955, and attorney general from 1955 to 1957. In 1956, he was elected lieutenant governor, and in 1958 was elected governor.

Following this quick rise to the top of Vermont state politics, he was elected to Vermont's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1960, winning five successive elections. In September 1971, he resigned his seat in Congress to accept appointment to the Senate to temporarily fill the vacancy caused by the death in office of Winston L. Prouty. Stafford won the special election of January 1972 to serve out the rest of Prouty's term, and won two successive elections, serving in the Senate for slightly over 17 years, until his retirement in 1989. He chaired the Committee on Environment and Public Works from 1981 to 1987.

While in Congress, he helped pass a law, now known as the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, to coordinate federal natural disaster assistance.

Stafford's support of weapons sales to Nicaraguan contras led to the Winooski 44 protest.

In 1988, Congress renamed the Federal Guaranteed Student Loan program the Robert T. Stafford Student Loan program, in honor of his work on higher education.

In 2007, Congress renamed the White Rocks National Recreation Area in the State of Vermont as the "Robert T. Stafford White Rocks National Recreation Area."

Stafford died in his hometown of Rutland in 2006. His wife Helen Stafford died February 27, 2010, at the age of 93.

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Robert Stafford, Governor, U.S. Senator's Timeline

August 8, 1913
Rutland, VT, United States
December 23, 2006
Age 93
Rutland, VT, United States