Brattleboro lost a longtime pillar of the community earlier this month: Martha O’Connor died at the age of 82. But O'Connor's legacy stretches far from southeast Vermont.
After working as an elementary school teacher early in her career, O'Connor spent the next four decades in public service, chairing local select boards as well as the state Board of Education, the Vermont State Colleges Board of Trustees and the State Lottery Commission, among others.
She also had roles in the local Brattleboro selectboard and school board. It was a career of local and statewide public service that caused her to be called the "matriarch of Brattleboro" by the Brattleboro Reformer in the paper's announcement of her death.
And she played a significant role behind the scenes in shaping the politics of Vermont, including the political ambitions of multiple governors. Former Gov. Peter Shumlin says it was O'Connor who first prodded him to consider a run for governor.
Gov. Shumlin shared his reflections on the life and career of his friend and colleague with Vermont Edition.
Broadcast on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019, at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.