MONTPELIER — Chittenden County Sen. Sally Fox died early Friday morning after a prolonged battled with lung cancer.
Fox, 62, a Democrat from South Burlington, was in her second term in the Senate. She was serving on the Senate Health and Welfare and Appropriations Committees.
House Speaker Shap Smith announced her death Friday morning in the House chamber, saying she died peacefully, surrounded by family, around 3:15 a.m. Services will be held Sunday in South Burlington at Temple Sinai, according to Smith.
Later in the morning, Lt. Gov. Phil Scott gaveled the Senate to order by noting that Fox’s death was “bringing the first week of the session to a tragic close.” Fox’s desk was clear except for a single, white rose.
Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell said the recent news of Fox’s death made it “very difficult to compose our thoughts.” He said a resolution honoring Fox will be prepared for Tuesday, when senators will be able to provide their own remarks in her honor.
Fox’s colleagues in the Legislature said Friday that she was deeply respected for her work advocating for the poor and disabled through her work as an attorney with Vermont Legal Aid.
Fox was elected to the House in 1986 and served in that chamber for 14 years. She served as chairwoman of the House Appropriation and Judiciary Committees, and as House Assistant Majority Leader.
According to her Senate campaign website, Fox was most proud of her role in creating the Vermont Family Court system, which consolidated all family and child-related issues into a single venue.
Sen. Claire Ayer, chairwoman of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, said a was placed outside the committee room to allow people to leave messages for Fox’s family.
“A lot of people who work in this building — lobbyists, students, pages, whatever — are grieving about Sen. Fox and … it’s surprising the number of constituents who come here … who are grieving and would like to say something to her family, so we have put some paper out there and a pen,” she said. said.
Gov. Peter Shumlin, who served on the House Judiciary Committee when first appointed to the House, said Fox served as a mentor to him, and will be remembered for her role as an advocate.
“Sally Fox was a relentless champion for kids and vulnerable Vermonters. Those who often lack a voice always had an advocate with Sally in the State House,” Shumlin said in a statement. “Sally took me under her wing and taught me a great deal about how to effectively serve Vermonters in the State House. She was a great friend, and I will miss her tremendously.”
Fox is survived by her husband and two adult sons.
Services will take place Sunday at Temple Sinai in South Burlington on Sunday, followed by a private burial.