Giving Tuesday update: What an incredible day! Thank you to the nearly 3,000 supporters who made a gift to our campaign - your generous support will strengthen public media in Vermont and will provide more than 107,000 meals to the Vermont Foodbank.
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.
Audio: The Jeffords Effect, Part I: Senator Reflects On The Past Year
Audio: The Jeffords Effect, Part 2: Impact On National Policy Issues
Audio: The Jeffords Effect, Part 3: Vermonters Share Opinons
Audio: The Jefford's Effect, Part 4: Patrick Leahy's Heightened Profile
Audio: The Jeffords Effect, Part 5: Frank Bryan Commentary
In 2005, after nearly 40 years of public service, Jeffords announced that he would not seek a fourth term in the U.S. Senate.
Audio: Citing his and his wife's health, a 70-year-old Jeffords announced his decision not to seek a fourth term in the Senate on April 20, 2005.
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.
Editor's note: If you are currently using the VPR app, we recommend that you open the full version of this story.
John worked for VPR in 2001-2021 as reporter and News Director. Previously, John was a staff writer for the Sunday Times Argus and the Sunday Rutland Herald, responsible for breaking stories and in-depth features on local issues. He has also served as Communications Director for the Vermont Health Care Authority and Bureau Chief for UPI in Montpelier.