Memorial Service Set For Vermont's "Mr. Development"

05/06/11 5:50PM By Susan Keese
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AP File Photo/Toby Talbot
Elbert "Al" Moulton in 2006 at a 25th anniversary celebration of Vermont's captive insurance program.
(Host) A memorial service in Brattleboro Saturday will honor the life of Elbert "Al" Moulton.

He was a tireless cheerleader for Vermont, who served under four governors as the state's top economic development officer.

Moulton died in Townshend Sunday at the age of 85.

VPR's Susan Keese has this remembrance.

(Keese) In the early eighties Al Moulton took out a full page ad in Business Week magazine: A map of New England with Brattleboro in the middle.

It read, "The Center of New England: Brattleboro, Vermont," and listed the number of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, where Moulton spent a decade as executive director.

(Fleming) "Al felt that if we're going to create jobs, let's do it big and let's advertise. Let's push our name out there. And he did that."

(Keese) Brattleboro businessman Dick Fleming was part of the team that worked with Moulton to build two industrial parks in Brattleboro.

Another member of that team was Dart Everett. He says Moulton's arrival worried some Brattleboro folks, who feared he'd pave the county and leave it looking like New Jersey.

(Everett) "He just had such a reputation as being driven. And he was. He was just an exciting person who could get things done."

(Keese) Moulton by then was known as a genial deal maker bent on selling Vermont as a tourist destination - and a perfect place for businesses and industry.

In the 1960s, he served as commissioner of development under Governor Phil Hoff.

Former House Speaker Dick Mallary worked with Moulton to push through Vermont's famous ban on billboards and the Act 250 development control law.

(Mallary) "He understood people and was very good at reading public opinion and helping to direct it."

(Keese) Mallary says Moulton led the state Republican Party for a time. He managed two campaigns for Governor Deane Davis, and served as development chief in Davis' administration.

(Mallary) "He had lots of different careers. I know that for a while he was involved in the Quechee Lakes Development...He was involved in bringing people to Vermont and commercializing some of the land there, but... it was done consistent with good environmental planning."

(Keese) Moulton also worked at job creation under Governors Richard Snelling and Madeleine Kunin.

Former Governor Jim Douglas refers to him as "Mr. Development."

(Douglas) "He's a legend, obviously, and rightly so, and passed on some good genes to his daughter, which I took advantage of."

(Keese) Douglas tapped Moulton's daughter, Patricia Moulton-Powden, as his labor secretary. She's now serving in the Shumlin administration as deputy commerce secretary.

Powden says her father loved his family, and his state.

(Powden) "He was very committed to creating economic opportunities for Vermonters and making this a place where people could thrive."

For VPR News, I'm Susan Keese.

(Host ) The Memorial Service for Elbert "Al" Moulton will be held at 11:00 a.m in the Centre Congregational Church in Brattleboro.

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