"The Senate will please come to order," said Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont. "It is with a heavy heart that I gavel in today's session."
The first week of 2014's legislative session came to a tragic close Friday. A white rose lay on the desk of Chittenden County Sen. Sally Fox, who succumbed to cancer earlier in the morning.
"It's obviously devastating for all of us," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont. "Sally was an extraordinary public servant for Vermont."
The governor ordered flags across the state to fly at half-staff from Sunday through Tuesday in honor of the Democrat he says fought harder than anyone else for low-income Vermonters and children.
Fox spent her early career as an advocate before entering the House of Representatives in 1987. She rose to a position of leadership as chairwoman of the powerful Appropriations Committee.
In 2000, she left her seat to become a lobbyist, but returned in 2011 as a senator.
"I've known Sally since I was in my 20s," said Sen. Rich Westman, R-Lamoille County.
Westman says Fox became one of his closest friends and never let politics cloud her ethics.
"Her last fight here with cancer was a courageous, dignified fight and that was the way she conducted her politics," Westman said.
The 62-year-old refused to stop working for her constituents despite a cancer diagnosis two years ago. That continued until late December.
Though her health declined, her work never suffered.
"It's been an observation of many of us that Sally at 10 percent was worth 200 percent of the 179 of the rest of us," said Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison County.
"Our thoughts go out to her family, we're going to miss her," said Sen. Dick Mazza, D-Grand Isle County.
The Senate will spend Wednesday remembering her legacy, but will continue working in the meantime. After all, it's what Sen. Fox would have wanted.
A memorial service will be held Sunday at 1 p.m. at South Burlington's Sinai Temple.
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