U.S. Senator From Vermont For 18 Years, Congressman For 14 Years
SHREWSBURY – James M. Jeffords was born in Rutland, the son of Marion (née Hausman) and the Hon. Olin Merrill Jeffords, who served as chief justice of the Vermont Supreme Court.
He had said that his mother, a music teacher and graduate of Syracuse University, was a relative of French architect Georges-Eugène Haussmann. Jeffords graduated from Yale University in 1956 and Harvard Law School in 1962.
After three years of active duty in the U.S. Navy (1956-59), Jeffords served in the Naval Reserves until retiring as a captain in 1990. He was a law clerk for Judge Ernest W. Gibson Jr. during 1962 and 1963, and practiced law in Rutland.
A longtime resident of Shrewsbury, Jeffords became active in politics and government in the 1960s as Shrewsbury’s grand juror, town agent and zoning administrator, in addition to serving as chairman of the town’s Republican committee. He served as Rutland County’s chairman of the Board of Property Tax Appeals.
Jeffords won a seat in the Vermont state Senate in 1966. He followed that success in 1968 with a victory in the race for attorney general of Vermont. He was a presidential elector for Vermont in 1972. Jeffords sought the Republican Party nomination for governor in 1972, but was defeated by Luther “Fred” Hackett.
In 1974, after winning the Republican nomination with a plurality in a three-way race, he won Vermont’s sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served for 14 years and was the ranking Republican member of the House Education and Labor Committee. In 1988, Jeffords was elected to the U.S. Senate, and was reelected in 1994 and 2000.
Jeffords married his late wife, Elizabeth “Liz” Daley twice. Their first marriage was in 1961; in June 1978, the couple divorced. On Aug. 26, 1986, they married again, 25 years after their first marriage. Liz Jeffords died on the morning of April 13, 2007, after a long struggle with ovarian cancer. Jeffords and his wife had two children, Leonard and Laura.
After his wife’s death, Jeffords resided in Washington, D.C., a move he made in order to live near his son and his wife, Maura; daughter and her husband Jan and his two grandchildren Patton and Hazel.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 22 at Grace Congregational Church of Christ in Rutland. Officiating will be the Rev. Dr. Steven Berry, Sabbatical Minister of Grace Congregational Church.
Military honors will follow the services at the church.
Burial services will be in Northam Cemetery in Shrewsbury at the convenience of the family. There are no visiting hours.
Arrangements are under the direction of Clifford Funeral Home in Rutland.
This obituary first appeared in the August 21, 2014 print edition of the Vermont Standard.
To leave condolences, thoughts or stories, please comment below.
To see more obituaries click here.