Longtime legislator Rick Hube dies

MANCHESTER - Rick Hube, 62, a state representative from the Windham-Bennington-Windsor 1 District, passed away while on vacation in Florida last Monday, Dec. 21.

Hube died of natural causes while visiting his sister in a suburb of Orlando, Fla., according to Gov. James Douglas' spokeswoman Dennise Casey. He had represented the district - which includes the towns of Weston, Winhall, Jamaica, Londonderry and Stratton - in the Legislature since 1999.

In an official statement released last Wednesday morning, Douglas praised Hube for his leadership in the Statehouse.

"I am deeply saddened by the sudden loss of my good friend Rick Hube," Douglas said. "Rick was a great man, a true statesman and dedicated Representative of his district. Dorothy and I extend our deepest sympathies to this family, friends and loved ones. Vermont has lost a great leader."

Hube had gone out for a walk that day and after he had gone about a half mile from his sister's home, phoned her and complained of a pain in his leg, said former state representative Walter Freed of Dorset, who knew Hube well from the days when they were serving in the Legislature together.

By the time his sister reached him, he was lying on a sidewalk, and a passer-by placed a 911 emergency call. He was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, but passed away a few hours later, Freed said, according to what Hube's sister had told him.

Freed, a former House Speaker, said he had skied with Hube recently and he seemed in excellent health.

"He'd been in great healthy shape, the picture of health," Freed said. "He was doing so well and in great shape, it came as a surprise to all of us. There was no indication he wasn't well."

Hube had battled weight issues in recent years but had shed a considerable number of pounds in the past year. He was getting out and exercising regularly, Freed said.

"Rick was a dedicated public servant and he enjoyed being a legislator," Freed said. "He enjoyed representing his district and was very much involved in it."

Hube was a persistent critic of Act 60, the state's education financing law, and championed the cause of towns and taxpayers whose solvency was jeopardized, in his view, by a taxation system that wasn't as fair, understandable or affordable as he thought it should be.

Two years ago, he developed an alternative plan to Act 60/68 known as LEAF - short for the Vermont Local Education Affordability Formula - which he thought might be a way around the statewide property tax currently relied upon for education spending. The plan, however, gained little traction in the Legislature.

During his tenure in the Statehouse, Hube was appointed to the House Commerce, Judiciary and Government Operations and Rules committees, as well as to the House-Senate Joint Rules Committee. He also served as the Assistant Majority Leader, and was currently a member of the House Ways and Means committee and also was serving on a special task force on appointed by the governor to examine education spending. On his Web site, Hube listed successfully getting the education fund reimbursed $7 million for money spent on non-education uses and lobbying Verizon to install broadband Internet service in Weston as some of his greatest achievements in the Legislature.

"Serving his constituents was his life," said Patti Komline, the House Minority Leader and another of Hube's close associates. "When I look at the bills he sponsored it shows how bi-partisan he was, and how well he represented his constitutents."

Born in Hartford, Conn., in January 1947, Hube earned a bachelor's degree in history at Colgate University and began his career as a management trainee with the McDonald's Corporation.

After relocating to Vermont in 1978, Hube worked as a laborer at the Stratton Mountain golf course and spent one winter on ski patrol in the area. Two years later, he was promoted to personnel director at Stratton and at its sister ski area, Bromley Mountain. In 1990, he started Hube, Inc., a management firm he operated from South Londonderry.

When he was not in Montpelier, Hube served with the Chapel of the Snows, the Stratton Winhall Education Foundation and as director of the Stratton Arts Festival.

Friends outside of the Statehouse remember him as a kind man with a great personality and a good sense of humor.

"Rick Hube was a statesman of the highest order - he always approached a problem with an open mind and sought out different perspectives from across party lines," said Oliver Olsen, chairman of the Jamaica Selectboard and a close friend of Hube.

"He was a great advocate for his constituents, an incredibly gifted legislator and one of the kindest people I have ever known," he added. "His loss will be felt throughout Vermont, but no more so than here in the district he loved so much."

Douglas and Hube were not just colleagues, but good friends for many years, Dennise Casey, the governor's spokeswoman said. The two traveled to Asia together in October as part of a trade delegation with 15 Vermont business leaders.

"I had the honor of traveling with Rick to China recently where we worked together to promote Vermont as a great place to invest in and visit," Gov. Douglas said in his formal statement. "I saw first hand his deep commitment to Vermont and his willingness to do what it takes to make our state better. Rick will be remembered for his quick wit, his kind heart and his unwavering dedication to reforming Act 60. As we prepare for the upcoming legislative session and the fiscal challenges that lie ahead, I know we will look back on Rick's service to Vermont for strength to get the job done."

Rep. Peter Welch also issued a statement about Hube's passing and what it would mean for the state.

"Vermont has lost a great legislator, and so many Vermonters have lost a true friend. Rick had a sharp wit, a deep intelligence and a wonderful sense of humor. He was a legislator who built bridges, who worked with those of every viewpoint to improve the state he loved so much," Welch said. "Above all, he was a man of deep principle. All of us who knew Rick were the better for it."

The news stunned and surprised Hube's friends and associates, who had seen him lose weight and get in better shape recently.

Jeff Wilson, Manchester's representative in the Statehouse, said he too was shocked to learn of Hube's untimely death.

"It seemed like he worked so hard over the last year to lose weight and he was in great shape - he'll be missed," Wilson said. "He was extraordinarily sharp - he was very adept at issues associated with finance and property tax and had a great sense of humor - he was a very witty guy."

Hube was recognized for his work on behalf of Vermont towns and the pressure they were placed under by Act 60 in 1997, which changed the way the state finances public education. In 2008, he was recognized by the Vermont League of cities and Towns for his legislative efforts on behalf of municipalities and was awarded one of the two "Legislative Service" medals the organization handed out that year.

The Legislative Service Award recognizes a member of the Vermont General Assembly who, through his or her service, has best shown an awareness of the problems facing local government and has sought to help solve those problems in the legislature on a statewide basis.

According to the VLCT, Hube had been an advocate for insuring that municipalities have greater control of their own governance, working to reform the education funding system, taking as his cue VLCT Municipal Policies that have been adopted over the years, and argued for keeping transportation dollars in the Transportation Fund, an issue important to local officials who struggle to keep their highways, bridges and other transportation infrastructure in good repair.

Paul Carroccio, the vice-chairman of the state Republican Party, and a Manchester businessman, said he was deeply saddened by the news of Hube's passing.

"Rick and I spent a lot of time together, we used to hike Stratton Mountain together every day for a number of years back in the 1990s," Carroccio said. "He was one of the finest legislators the state ever had. He was definitely a leader of the Republican caucus, but more importantly, he was a person who understood what was best for Vermont."

A memorial service in Hube's memory is being planned for Jan. 31, which would have been Hube's 63rd birthday. It will be held at Stratton Mountain, according to Patti Komline. The Brattleboro Reformer contributed to this report.


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