The Rev. Dr. Steven Berry of Grace Congregational UCC reads a passage from the Old Testament’s Book of Ecclesiastes: “For everything there is a season.”
Photo by Louis Varricchio.
Rutland Despite the sadness of gathering for a church memorial to honor a loved one’s passing, the family and friends of the late U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords were determined to celebrate the man’s life and decades-long accomplishments in the arena of public service.
The memorial service for the senator was held in his hometown of Rutland Aug. 22. The service took place in the senator’s former church, Grace Congregational UCC in downtown Rutland.
In attendance were hundreds who paid their final respects to the senator
Jeffords, an attorney and U.S. Navy captain (he retired from the Naval reserves in 1990), died Aug. 18 in Washington, D.C. He was born May 11, 1934, in Rutland, the son of Marion Hausman and Judge Olin Merrill Jeffords.
The senior Jeffords was chief justice of the Vermont Supreme Court and he influenced his son’s interest in both law and government as well as public service.
Remembrances were delivered by Dr. George Hansen, former Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas and senate aide Mark Powden. In addition, Jeffords’ daughter Laura Jeffords and son Leonard Jeffords also delivered family remembrances.
“He was one of the few parents to faithfully attend our school afternoon games,” said Leonard, who recalled high school days in Montpelier. “I certainly learned much about life and what’s required from my father. Dad was my hockey coach in the 1970s. We also had many fond family times playing cards and board games such as Monopoly and Risk.”
Laura recalled her father’s love of tending the family homestead in Shrewsbury. “He loved his Ford tractor,” she said. “You can still see his handiwork on our land—his wood piles, wooden spans across wet areas abound.”
Gov. Douglas said that, while he was disappointed that Jeffords had left the Republican Party, he still maintained a friendship with the late senator. “We met for lunches and he remained a friend; Jim was an unpretentious man and always remained true to what he believed in. He helped improve Vermont’s landscape from helping to ban billboards to opposing International Paper dumping waste in Lake Champlain.”
Jeffords leaves behind the families of his son and daughter which include two grandchildren.