Republican leader Sara Gear Boyd dies at 67
06/11/08 5:50PM By Bob Kinzel
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(Host) Sara Gear Boyd is being remembered as a trail blazing, common sense political leader who had a strong impact at both the state and national level.
During her state legislative career, she was the first woman in the country to serve as majority leader of both the House and the Senate.
Gear Boyd died of cancer Tuesday morning at the age of 67.
VPR's Bob Kinzel has more.
(Kinzel) Sara Gear Boyd grew up in Burlington and graduated from UVM. She was elected to the first of four terms in the Vermont House in 1984 and between 1989 and 1992 she served as Republican majority leader.
In November of 1992, she was elected to the Senate and in 1994, her Republican colleagues selected her as the majority leader of that body.
Property tax reform and controlling the cost of education were two of her top priorities during the 1994 session.
(Boyd) "People are screaming about their local property taxes and their local property tax rates and I want to be sure that they do not rise rapidly in the next few years after we put an extra $50 million into expenditures from the state."
(Kinzel) Governor Jim Douglas says Gear Boyd had a political style that was well suited to the Vermont Legislature.
(Douglas) "Sara was highly respected across the political aisle. She's the only woman in the history of our country to serve as majority leader of both the House and Senate in the state legislature. She was always a mainstream, common sense Vermonter, always upbeat, always with a smile on her face."
(Kinzel) Former Lieutenant Governor and state senator Barbara Snelling remembers Gear Boyd as a determined lawmaker.
(Snelling) "She just did what had to be done. I don't think she was looking for notoriety of being a trailblazer. I think she was living out her beliefs and following them."
(Kinzel) Former House Speaker Walter Freed says Gear Boyd gave him some important advice about being a legislative leader.
(Freed) "If the caucus is, three-quarters of them, are squarely beyond one issue but it doesn't fit well to your district, then you're still charged with being the leader of that caucus and carrying that message forward. And at times that can be tough going, but that's the responsibility that you accepted."
(Kinzel) Gear Boyd also served in several positions for the Republican National Committee. She was co-chair of the 1996 convention and recently served as the secretary of the RNC.
Former GOP state chairman Jack Lindley attended many national meetings with her.
(Lindley) "She had this great ability to charm people into understanding and listening to her side... and so she carried that on to the national committee and was a very effective spokesman for Vermont."
(Kinzel) Governor Douglas says as secretary of the RNC, Gear Boyd was scheduled to have an important role at the party's national convention this summer.
(Douglas) "We all were looking forward to her calling the role of the states at the convention this fall. Sadly that won't occur, but we all are grateful as Republicans, as Vermonters for her dedicated service."
For VPR News I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.
AP Photo/Toby Talbot