Wife Of Late Sen. Stafford Dies At 93

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(Host)  Helen Stafford, wife of the late U.S. Senator Robert Stafford, died Saturday at the age of 93.   

VPR’s Nina Keck has this remembrance.

(Keck) Helen Stafford was just beginning her studies at Middlebury College in 1934 when she met her future husband.   The late Robert Stafford described it this way in a 2001 interview with VPR.

(Robert Stafford)  "In my senior year, a freshman girl from Bellows Falls arrived at Middlebury for freshman orientation the same day I did for early football camp training. Somebody introduced me to her and that’s what kept me in Middlebury."

(Keck)  Dinah Stafford, one of the couple’s four daughters, says her dad always said he fell hard and fast for Helen.

(Dinah Stafford) "He said he just saw her and took one look at her and said, ‘She’s the one.’" 

(Keck) The couple married in 1938 and Helen Stafford quietly supported her husband throughout his successful political career, one that included two years as governor and 28 years in Washington.  

Dinah says her mom liked to avoid the spotlight and preferred to help her husband behind the scenes. 

That’s fitting, she says, because her mom was a theater major in college and wanted to be a director.

(Dinah Stafford) "She found the performer in my father."

(Keck) Dinah describes her mom as unassuming and devoted to her family. She says her parent’s marriage was an amazing partnership that lasted almost 70 years until the senator’s death in 2006.

(Dinah Stafford) "They were just devoted to each other. He just adored her. She walked on water to him. She was his rock."

(Keck) Dinah Stafford says her mother’s health had been good in recent years. But a small stroke just after Christmas weakened her.  

Dinah says in recent months, her mother said she felt it was time for her to go – to be with Bob. 

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

(Host) A celebration of Helen Stafford’s life is scheduled for March 12th at Rutland’s Grace Congregational Church.


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