Following the Monday morning death of former Vermont U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords, VPR dug into its archives for recordings of the pivotal moments in Jeffords' career – including his bombshell 2001 announcement that he would leave the Republican party.
We also dusted off the tape of Jeffords' announcement, in 2005, that he would retire from the Senate, re-digitized The Jeffords Effect, a five-part series we created in 2002, and collected photographs of Jeffords' time in Washington and Vermont.
Jeffords' career was defined by a fierce independent streak, and advocacy for Vermont agriculture, in particular dairy farmers.
The Rutland native was the son of a chief justice of the state Supreme Court. He worked his way up the political ladder, serving in the Statehouse, as attorney general, in the U.S. House and the Senate.
Jeffords was known for his sense of humor and affable nature. He appeared with the "Singing Senators" but later alienated his fellow performers when he quit the Republican Party.
Throughout his four decades in politics, Jeffords frequently made allies across the aisle.
When Jeffords left the Republican Party in 2001, he was branded a traitor by the GOP but hailed as a hero by many others.
One year after Jeffords' switch, VPR produced a five-part series on the fallout of the politician's move to the Independent Party.
In 2005, after nearly 40 years of public service, Jeffords announced that he would not seek a fourth term in the U.S. Senate.
In the last years of his life, Jeffords suffered from Alzheimer's disease. A Navy veteran, he lived at a retirement home for veterans in Wahington, D.C. where he died Monday morning.
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