Friends remember Liz Jeffords, 68

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(Host) Elizabeth Daley Jeffords, the wife of former U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords died today.

She was 68.

VPR’s Nina Keck has this remembrance.

(Keck) Liz Daley Jeffords was a long time survivor of ovarian cancer. When she lost her fight against the disease she was with loved ones at her home in Shrewsbury. In an interview with VPR last year, Liz Jeffords describes dealing with her cancer and its recurrences.

(Jeffords) “The first time was horrible. I railed, I ranted, I don’t think I talked, I snarled. I was that angry. I was angry at God, I was angry at – especially when people would say, ‘oh you know, God’s will be done. Well God doesn’t have a thing to do with cancer. It’s a disease, at least that’s my opinion.”

(Keck) Despite her initial anger, friends say she handled her cancer with grace, fierce determination, humor and faith. Long time friend Taffy Maynard says she was amazed by Liz Jefford’s spirit.

(Maynard) “I would visit her and see her looking quite debilitated and there would be a public function going on and I would think – oh, she’s not going to be able to make it and there she was with her wig on looking like a movie star. She was incredible the way she kept going and her spirit was just amazing.”

(Keck) Howard Coffin, another long time friend and neighbor, also served as Jim Jeffords press secretary in the early 1990s. He says Liz Jeffords was one of the most honest people he’d ever met. He was impressed by her intellect and her eloquence as both a public speaker and writer. But he says her kindness and caring are what he remembers most.

(Coffin) “She was a wonderful small town person. You could always count on her to cook something for the suppers. But beyond that she helped people who were in need. I remember when the mother of a large poor family died in Shrewsbury, she stepped in and almost became a substitute mother for those kids. She was a wonderful neighbor.”

(Keck) After forty years in the political spotlight, Liz Jeffords also leaves behind a powerful statewide legacy. Governor Jim Douglas called her “a strong and courageous voice for commonsense and independence.” Senator Bernie Sanders called Liz Jeffords “a remarkable woman who served our state with great distinction.” Congressman Peter Welch remembered her devotion to her husband, community and state.

Senator Patrick Leahy said this about his friend.

(Leahy) “Marcelle and I were both saddened to hear the news. Liz was a dear friend to both of us. We can’t help thinking that when Jim retired they were both looking forward to retirement time at their home in Shrewsbury, and the time was all too short. My heart goes out to the Jeffords and the Daly family.”

(Keck) Liz Jeffords is survived by her husband, former Senator Jim Jeffords, their two children and two grandchildren.

For VPR news, I’m Nina Keck in Rutland.

(Host) The funeral service for Liz Daley Jeffords will be held Saturday, April 21st at 11 at Rutland’s Grace Congregational Church. A reception will follow.

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