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Sen. Jim Jeffords laid to rest - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Sen. Jim Jeffords laid to rest

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Sen. Jim Jeffords Sen. Jim Jeffords
RUTLAND, Vt. -

Sen. Jim Jeffords was one of Vermont's beloved public servants, with a career that took him from the hills of Shrewsbury to the U.S. Senate. Jeffords died Monday at the age of 80.

Friday, in his hometown of Rutland, Jeffords was laid to rest. At his funeral service, family and friends remembered him as a folksy down-to-earth public servant who was smart and just wanted to solve problems.

As a gentle rain fell, mourners gathered to remember James Merrill Jeffords.

"Our own Jim Jeffords, proud Vermonter, lived as few others have lived in our history have been able to do. So we have come here to honor him," Rev. Steven Berry said.

The service was sprinkled with song. Jeffords' love of music was always part of his life, from his time in the choir to the halls of the Congress as a member of the "Singing Senators."

His serious work took him from Shrewsbury to eventually the United States Senate. Those who knew him best remembered him as a public servant who quietly went about his work seeking solutions.

"Jim once told me the moments he savored most were when committed people work together to solve tough problems to improve the lot for Americans... he saw a good idea as a good idea," Former Vt. Gov. Jim Douglas said.

Those who came to his service could see his life's work along Vermont's landscape; Jeffords worked to keep cows in the pasture and farmers on the land. He wrote laws to protect the lakes and streams. The former state senator and attorney general made sure the state's roadsides were not cluttered with billboards and bottles. It's part of his legislative legacy. But there was a lighter side to this father and grandfather.

His daughter Laura spilled the family secrets.

"My father hated the green bean casserole because when he married my mom that is all she knew how to cook," Laura Jeffords said. "My father's favorite sandwich was peanut butter, lettuce and mayonnaise... I know."

His son Leonard remembered his dad's love of working in the woods, tinkering and spending time on his Ford tractor. A tractor that became part of an April Fool's prank.

"I got my mother on this; I called him and said, 'Pop, you left the keys in the tractor. Someone stole it and they wrecked it.' And he was so upset he called my mother and she said, 'Jim, I can't talk right now. The state police are here. My tractor is gone,'" Leonard Jeffords recounted.

There were laughs and thanks from his friends who first met him during Sunday School at church. Childhood friend George Hanson recalled the competitive spirit of Jeffords, whether it was on the baseball diamond or the football field and never to underestimate Jimmy Jeffords.

"So from Jimmy to Jim, from Jim to gene men, Jim to Jeezum Jim, to husband to father to naval captain to attorney general to congressman to U.S. senator, we say well done classmate, well done best friend, well done good and faithful servant," Hanson said.

A public servant loved by his state and his country.

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