Colleagues remember Vermont Rep. Robert Forguites as a hard-working man dedicated to public service.
Forguites, a Democrat who represented Springfield, died this weekend at the age of 80.
House Speaker Mitzi Johnson announced the news to the chamber Tuesday.
At a press conference, tears came to Johnson’s eyes when asked if she wishes more lawmakers were like him.
“I think he represented Vermont incredibly well, with his few words, with his willingness and desire to compromise and with his goal of always keeping Vermonters and the people he grew up with here in this state right in the forefront of all of his decisions,” she said.
Forguites spent decades serving others.
First he served in the U.S. Army, then on the Brandon selectboard. He also served 16 years as Springfield town manager.
Now, a single rose is perched at his seat in the Vermont house chamber.
“In this building he was known for being incredibly steady, never got ruffled, never got angry, never got super excited but was always incredibly steady, incredibly positive and mostly spent his time listening,” said Johnson.
Speaker Johnson highlighted what she called “depth in those calm waters.”
“When he spoke, it was to help bridge divides, to help bring people together, to sum up a very contentious debate with the kind of words that people on all sides of a debate could find themselves in and find a path forward,” she said.
“I was stunned. I sort of half leapt out of my seat,” said Stephen Carr, a retired lawmaker from Brandon, Vt.
Carr says he knew Forguites most of his life.
They were distant relatives.
Carr is the former chair of the House Energy & Technology committee, for which Forguites was a member.
“He’s definitely interested in public service and he worked hard at it. He didn’t suffer fools gladly. If there was something need saying, he was ready to say it,” said Carr.
Governor Phil Scott (R – Vermont) said Forguites will be remembered for his dedication to the people of Springfield, Vt.
“Bob always put his constituents first and was known for his independent voice. His years of service are greatly appreciated, and my thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues during this difficult time,” he wrote in a statement.
The future of Forguites’ seat is in the Governor’s hands after nominations are put forth by the town democratic committee in Springfield.