Saturday is Leahy Day In Randolph


Front Page / Oct. 23, 2008 12:00am EDT

By M. D. Drysdale


Saturday is Leahy Day In Randolph By M. D. Drysdale


One of U. S. Senator Patrick Leahy's favorite photographs is this one with a Tibetan man showing a forbidden picture of the Dalai Lama to his son. Leahy later showed his photograph to the Dalai Lama.

Depending how you look at it, this Saturday will be Randolph Day for Sen. Patrick Leahy, or Pat Leahy Day for Randolph.

However you label it, Vermont’s senior senator, one of the most powerful members of the U. S. Senate and chairman of its Judiciary Committee, will spend a good deal of his day here, engaged in two of his favorite activities.

In the morning, Sen. Leahy and his wife Marcelle will be at Vermont Technical College to open the 12th annual Women’s Economic Opportunity Conference, which he helped start. Starting arount 9 a.m., he’ll introduce the featured speaker, Vermont Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Skogland. Then he’ll seek the background, he told The Herald this week.

He’s not likely to stay in the background at his next appearance, however.

From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., he will appear at the Chandler Gallery on Main Street, where a wide-ranging exhibit of his photographs is on display all this month. Leahy will talk about his photography and tell the stories behind some of his favorite photos, which have been attracting a lot of attention, according to Chandler’s Betsy Cantlin. Refeshments will be served.

Sen. Leahy has worked at photography since he was a child, despite being nearly blind in one eye, and it has become a passion.

He slyly acknowledged in a Herald interview that he has an advantage over most photographers.

He remembers that Sen. Howard Baker used to take photographs during official trips, and Leahy asked him why he did it it.

"Who’s going to say ‘no’?" Baker responded with a laugh.

Since then, Leahy has also carried his camera around with him, and he’s found that Baker was right—nobody’s ever asked him not to take a picture.

As a result, the exhibition at the Chandler gallery includes a drunken Boris Yeltzen, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright sound asleep in an airplane, the first President Bush in a Goofy hat, as well as more formal photographs such as Ronald Reagan being sworn in as President.

The exhibit includes dozens of photos of world leaders, including a succession of Soviet premieres—Breznev, Andropov, Gorbachev, and Yeltzen—and a moving series of Pope John Paul from the time of his swearing in to his state funeral.

The photo of Andropov, Leahy said, turned out to have news value. When experts from the CIA blew up the photo, they discovered they could see the end of a stent peeking from the long underwear at his wrist. The Russian leader was on dialysis, and he never appeared in public again.

"Every photo has a story," Leahy told The Herald. "That’s why I take them."

Area residents will likely be able to hear a lot of those stories if they attend Saturday’s reception.

Conference Growing

The Women’s Economic Opportunity Conference is a resource for women looking to further their career or for those just entering the business world for the first time. Women-owner firms now employ more than 35,000 Vermonters and generate $1.5 billion in income.

Leahy said that VTC has proven a great home for it.

"When we started, we had no idea if anybody would show up," he told The Herald. "Then we moved to Randolph and it just got bigger and bigger because it’s just so much easier to come to Randolph than Burlington."

"I can’t tell you how good the college has been," he said. "I don’t think a lot of Vermonters understand what a treasure that school is."

His wife Marcelle will accompany him, and Leahy was pleased to point out that she was the recipient of the only honorary degree that the school has given out.

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