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Brattleboro, VT 05301
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ROBERT T. GANNETT - BRATTLEBORO - Robert T. Gannett died at his home on Sunday morning, Aug. 26, 2012, from heart complications. Gannett, a direct descendant of Brattleboro's namesake, General William Brattle, served four terms representing Brattleboro in the Vermont House of Representatives from 1953 to 1960, and 10 terms representing Windham County in the Vermont Senate from 1973 to 1992. Gannett was born in 1917, in Boston, Mass. He graduated from Milton Academy in Milton, Mass., in 1935, where he was head of school and lettered in football, basketball and baseball. He graduated from Harvard College in 1939, after playing center field for three years on the varsity baseball team and quarterback on the freshman football team; he then entered Harvard Law School in the fall of 1939. In August 1941, he married Sarah Alden Derby, a granddaughter of Theodore Roosevelt; she predeceased him in 1999. In 1942, Gannett received his law degree and enlisted in the United States Army. Gannett served in the field artillery from 1942 to 1946, including combat service in Europe in 1944 and 1945, and attained the rank of major. Gannett came to Brattleboro in 1946 to practice law, originally serving in the law office of Osmer C. Fitts. He became a member of the Vermont bar in 1947 and, in 1950, formed a law partnership with James L. Oakes, which continued until Oakes became Attorney General of Vermont and subsequently a federal judge. Gannett conducted an active tax and estate practice, including in partnership with both Bruce Weber and Kenneth Fisher and later as a sole practitioner. At the time of his formal retirement from the bar earlier this year, he had been an active member of the Vermont bar for 64 years and was the senior practicing member of the bar. He was first elected to the Vermont House of Representatives in 1953, at a time when Brattleboro had one representative in Montpelier. He was chairman of the House Appropriations Committee in 1959. In 1959, Gannett was instrumental in drafting and passing legislation that created the unique representative town meeting form of government for Brattleboro and also advocated the split legislative session in lieu of biennial seatings. He was an early supporter of legislation that restricted road-side advertising in Vermont and legislation that facilitated the development of the ski industry in Vermont through state commitments to fund access roads. In 1960, Gannett ran for the Republican nomination for the United States House of Representatives, losing to then-incumbent Governor Robert Stafford. He then returned to his law practice in Brattleboro, while continuing to participate in local and state politics. During this period, he was co-chair of the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital fund-raising campaign of 1966-1967, a trustee of the Brattleboro Retreat, and was chosen to serve on a state committee to study constitutionally mandated reapportionment options for each house of the Vermont legislature. In 1969, the Brattleboro Chamber of Commerce selected Gannett as its Man of the Year. Following the retirement of Stoyan Christowe in 1972, Windham County elected Gannett to the first of 10 consecutive terms in the Vermont Senate. Gannett was renowned in Montpelier for working across party lines to forge consensus and, at various times, served as chairman of the Appropriations, Institutions and Highway and Safety Committees during the terms of office of Governors Salmon, Snelling, Kunin and Dean. In addition to contributing to the formulation of state budgets through membership on both the Appropriations and Finance Committees, Gannett played a key role in developing legislation that created Vermont's graduated income tax on land sales. His tenure as an elected member of the Legislature spanning 40 years was one of the longest of any Vermonter of his generation. Gannett was also actively involved with many foundations, organizations and service groups in Brattleboro, Windham County and Vermont. Among these are the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, the Prouty Center, the Southern Vermont Arts Council, the Vermont Community Foundation, Youth Services, the Green Mountain Club, the Brattleboro Retreat, the Snelling Center, Harris Hill and the Brattleboro Rotary Club, of which he was a founding member. In 1986, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce selected him as its Man of the Year. Both Gannett and his wife, Aldie, received honorary degrees from the University of Vermont; he received an honorary degree from Marlboro College; the Long Trail suspension bridge over the Lamoille River in Johnson is dedicated to Senator and Mrs. Gannett; and he received the Anna Marsh award from the Brattleboro Retreat. High on the list of his other interests was golf, a sport which he pursued with competitive determination into his 90s. He won the men's club championship of the Brattleboro Country Club in 1957 and, when his wife Aldie won the women's club championship in 1965, they became the only couple to have won both the men's and women's titles. More important to him than formal tournaments were his regular matches with friends and family. He was also an avid bridge and poker player. Occupying a central role in his life were the ups and downs of the Boston Red Sox. Born 11 months before the Red Sox won the World Series in 1918, he had to wait until a month after his 87th birthday for the Red Sox to emerge again as world champions. Fred Hoey, Jim Britt, Curt Gowdy, Ned Martin and Joe Castiglione were ever-present voices throughout his life. He is survived by his children, Alden Taylor and her husband, Gus, of Milwaukee,Wis., Robert T. Gannett Jr. and his wife, Joanne, of Chicago, Ill., and William B. Gannett and his wife, Anna, of New York, N.Y.; grandchildren, Ian Taylor (Mary) of New Orleans, LA., Graham Taylor (Susie) of Cambridge, Mass., Jamie Taylor of San Francisco, Calif., and Camilla Taylor of San Diego, Calif.; Jason Gannett of Washington, D.C., Kate Gannett, currently working in Cape Town, South Africa, and Elizabeth Gannett of Washington, D.C.; and Ted Gannett and Sarah Gannett of New York, N.Y.; sister, Dorothy West and her husband, Tim, of Westwood, Mass.; brother, William B. Gannett and his wife, Nancy, of Hopedale, Mass.; and 20 nieces and nephews. In the later stages of his life, Kim Leary, Cynthia Finck and Rebecca Gembarowski became members of his family through their thoughtful care, which enabled him to continue to lead an active and involved life. Services will be held at the Centre Congregational Church, 193 Main Street in Brattleboro on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012, at 10:30 a.m., reception to follow at the Brattleboro Country Club. Memorial contributions may be made to the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, 17 Belmont Avenue, Brattleboro, VT 05301, or to any of the many organizations that he supported so enthusiastically throughout his life. To sign an online guest book with messages of condolence please visit Arrangements are under the direction of the Atamaniuk Funeral Home.

Published in The Burlington Free Press from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1, 2012
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