Dinah Stafford remembers her father

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(Host) Hundreds are expected to attend tomorrow’s memorial service for former Governor and US Senator Robert Stafford, who died December 23rd.

Governor Jim Douglas and Senators Patrick Leahy and Jim Jeffords will be among the speakers honoring their late friend and political colleague.

Their remarks will likely reflect Stafford’s many contributions to his state and country.

But VPR’s Nina Keck talked with Stafford’s daughter Dinah, who remembers him on a much more personal level.

(Keck) Dinah Stafford says as a child, her father was away a lot. But she says weekends were family time – they loved to boat and ski.

(Stafford) “I remember we had a badminton set out back and Dad, Barbi and I would play for hours on the weekends. My dad was very physically fit and he exercised all the time. Even on the boat – he would be steering along on Lake Champlain but he’d get up on his seat and jog in place for just like the whole trip.”

(Keck) Stafford says her father had always had amazing political timing. She says thinking about his death, he seemed to time that too – waiting until family members would be near. Stafford says her father died peacefully with her mother, Helen and two of her sisters by his side. The family held a private service on Christmas Eve Day.

(Stafford) “Some of my nephews were saying how good dad was at this – and I stood up and said, well there’s one thing Dad wasn’t good at and that was fishing.’ He attempted it all the time, but he was just a horrible. He would get these rods stuck in trees and ugh, and snaggled up and if he caught something it would be the tiniest thing. And he didn’t even like to eat fish. But you gotta remember that he wasn’t great at everything.” (laughs)

(Keck) Stafford says her father was always very affectionate towards her mother. Before he died, she says he spoke several times about wanting 14 kisses.

(Stafford) “Yeah, to mom and he would say, I need my 14 kisses.’ So she would kiss him 14 times. We’re not sure the significance of it, but it just meant something. So we’re sticking 14 red roses into the flower display at the church. Maybe Dad will see that and will love that.”

(Keck) Robert Stafford’s memorial service will be held at 2 tomorrow at Grace Congregational Church in Rutland.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck.

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