Marion Milne, a former state representative and founder of Milne Travel, died unexpectedly Monday morning at her home in Washington. She was 79.
Milne is the wife of Don Milne, clerk of the Vermont House of Representatives.
Her son, Scott Milne, is the front-runner in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Marion Milne was present at her son’s campaign launch for governor at the Aldrich Public Library last month.
“My mother lived a life of service to others. She was a tireless advocate for what she believed,” Scott Milne said in a statement. “My mom’s two most powerful traits are perseverance and loyalty. She always finished what she started, and once you were her friend, ally, respected colleague, or customer, she would defend you and promote you with every ounce of herself.”
Marion Milne, a Republican, was one of five lawmakers who were ousted in 2000 for their support of Vermont’s groundbreaking civil unions bill. She served three terms in the Vermont Statehouse before she was voted out in the aftermath of the political backlash that followed passage of the legislation. Vermont was the first state in the nation to legalize civil unions. The law gave gay couples the same legal rights as married couples. The state legalized gay marriage in 2009.
Marion Milne was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and was one of seven out of 12 children in her family to survive childhood.
Marion Milne earned a B.A. in political science from Goddard College in 1975. That same year, she started Milne Travel as a one-woman operation in Barre. The company, now run by her son Scott, has about 50 employees and offices in Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire and Vermont. Marion Milne was still very active in the Barre office.
In an obituary shared by Scott Milne on Monday he said: “On the day she died, Marion had an appointment to have her hair done, planned to work at her desk in the travel agency, and attend a board meeting for the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.”
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Funeral arrangements will be handled by Hooker and Whitcomb Funeral Home in Barre, with a wake Thursday evening and funeral Friday at the Presbyterian Church in Barre. Flowers from a local florist, or a donation to the Calef Memorial Library, Washington, VT 05675 are most welcome, according to her obituary.
Gov. Peter Shumlin offered his condolences to the Milne family in a statement.
“My heart goes out to the family of Marion Milne,” Shumlin said. “I knew and admired Marion during her time in the Vermont House, and was very pleased to appoint her to the Governor’s Council on Successful Aging. She approached all of her endeavors with passion and with a keen sensibility drawn from her years in business. Marion was a devoted grandmother, mother and wife. She lost her House seat on a vote that will forever place her on the right side of history. She was a good friend to her community, her employees, and to all of the extended members of the Milne family. I know she will be deeply missed.”
Lt. Gov. Phil Scott also issued a statement. “It is with a heavy heart that I offer these words on the passing of Marion Milne,” he wrote. “Marion’s legacy is one of dedication and service. She went above and beyond for her family, friends, clients, staff, the people who voted for her and even people who voted against her, and always for the people of Vermont. Her dedication to our State was inspired by, and will live on through her husband, children and grandchildren. She served in the Vermont House of Representatives for three terms, where she served on numerous committees as well as many commissions with the purpose of giving a voice to the voiceless. She founded Milne Travel, a shining example of Vermont’s capability to house thriving local businesses. Marion supported me from the beginning and her support never wavered. I’m sure her husband, children, grandchildren, and all those who knew and respected her will carry on her legacy.”
Speaker of the House Shap Smith issued this statement:
“The thoughts and prayers of all members of the Vermont House of Representatives go out to the family of Marion Milne, in particular her husband Don Milne, the Clerk of the Vermont House. Marion was a model citizen legislator. Marion’s pragmatism and sense of fairness allowed her to look at an issue from every angle. When history called, she answered, voting for civil unions legislation when she knew that it could end her political career. We would often see Marion when she came to visit her husband and House Clerk, Don Milne, and she was always quick to offer words of encouragement to all around her. Marion was truly one of a kind. She will be sorely missed.”