Former Rep. Mallary '49 dies at 82

by Diana Ming | 9/29/11 10:00pm

Former Vermont Congressman and State House Speaker Richard Mallary '49 died of prostate cancer in his home in Brookfield, Vt., on Sept. 27, his nephew Peter Mallary said in an interview with The Dartmouth. He was 82 years old.

After graduating summa cum laude from the College with a major in philosophy, Mallary returned to his family farm and quickly became involved in local politics, Peter Mallary said.

"His public service was so varied and deep that it's almost hard to put into words," Peter Mallary said. "He had a remarkable career in agriculture which he did right out of Dartmouth and eventually became a kind of legislator and political leader that we don't often see anymore."

Mallary was elected to his first public position in 1951 as a Board of Selectmen member in Fairlee, Vt. He then served as a Republican member of the Vermont House of Representatives, and became Speaker in 1966, according to Peter Mallary.

In 1971, Mallary was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives to represent Vermont's at-large congressional district, Peter Mallary said. He served in Congress for three years. Mallary unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in 1974, losing to current Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

"He reflected the best values of his state, his family and his party, and Vermont benefited from his service, integrity and character," Leahy said in a press release on Sept. 28.

Despite his "brief stint" in Washington, Mallary "made lasting friendships on the national political scene," Peter Mallary said.

After his time in Congress, Mallary returned to Vermont to work in the energy business for the Vermont Electric Power Company in a "variety of roles," Peter Mallary said.

In 1998, Mallary was again elected to the Vermont House of Representatives after an absence of over 30 years. He was defeated in the November 2000 election after one term amidst public backlash against the state's civil unions law, Peter Mallary said.

"[His loss] was a classic example of the political figure that he was," Peter Mallary said. "My uncle was a progressive Republican who supported civil unions and he didn't question whether it was the right thing to do, even if he knew it could cost him his seat," he said.

Mallary last served in the public sphere as Vermont state tax commissioner in 2003.

Vermont's Democratic House of Representatives Speaker Shapleigh Smith met and worked with Mallary during his time as commissioner, Smith said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

"He is the type of speaker that I strive to emulate in that he often would put principle above party," Smith said. "I was impressed by his comportment and his thoughtfulness and evenhandedness. His fairness and his desire to do well for Vermont are the type of goals that we should all set for ourselves."

Mallary was 16 years old when he matriculated in Fall 1945, according to an interview with Mallary from "Dartmouth During World War Two," recorded in 2008.

"My father was [in] the Class of 1921, and my brother was [in] the Class of 1947," Mallary said in the recorded interview. "I lived 20 miles north [of Hanover] and it was convenient because my father was a loyal alumnus and was happy to have us be interested in Dartmouth."

During his time at the College, Mallary and his family ran a dairy farm in Fairlee, Vt., that supplied the milk for the College dining halls, he said.

Classmate Ray Truncellito '49 described Mallary as a "nice young guy from Vermont" during their time together at the College.

"I remembered him during my time at Dartmouth and after in subsequent reunions as a man of integrity," Truncellito said. "I've never known him other than as a person of intelligence and one you'd like to have as a friend. Vermont has lost a great son."

Richard Mallary is survived by his wife Jean and four children.