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Robert Theodore Stafford


In office
September 16, 1971 – January 3, 1989
Served alongside: George Aiken, Patrick Leahy
Preceded by Winston L. Prouty
Succeeded by Jim Jeffords

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Vermont's At-large district
In office
January 3, 1961 – September 16, 1971
Preceded by William H. Meyer
Succeeded by Richard W. Mallary

In office
January 8, 1959 – January 5, 1961
Lieutenant Robert S. Babcock
Preceded by Joseph B. Johnson
Succeeded by F. Ray Keyser, Jr.

In office
1957 – 1959
Governor Joseph B. Johnson
Preceded by Consuelo N. Bailey
Succeeded by Robert S. Babcock

In office
1955 – 1957
Governor Joseph B. Johnson
Preceded by F. Elliott Barber
Succeeded by Frederick M. Reed

Born August 8, 1913(1913-08-08)
Rutland, Vermont
Died December 23, 2006 (aged 93)
Rutland, Vermont
Political party Republican
Profession Lawyer / Politician

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. He 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.

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 1957, he was elected lieutenant governor, and in 1959 was elected governor.

Official Vermont State House portrait

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.

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.

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
F. Elliott Barber
Vermont Attorney General
1955–1957
Succeeded by
Frederick M. Reed
Political offices
Preceded by
Consuelo Bailey
Lieutenant Governor of Vermont
1957–1959
Succeeded by
Robert S. Babcock
Preceded by
Joseph B. Johnson
Governor of Vermont
1959–1961
Succeeded by
F. Ray Keyser, Jr.
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
William H. Meyer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Vermont's At-large congressional district

1961–1971
Succeeded by
Richard W. Mallary
United States Senate
Preceded by
Winston L. Prouty
United States Senator (Class 1) from Vermont
1971–1989
Served alongside: George Aiken, Patrick Leahy
Succeeded by
James Jeffords
Preceded by
Jennings Randolph
Chairman of Senate Environment and
Public Works Committee

1981 – 1987
Succeeded by
Quentin N. Burdick
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