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The retiring lawmaker was described as being the model of statesmanship, blending power and principle.
Del. Lacey E. Putney, I-Bedford, was honored for his 52 years in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Del. Lacey E. Putney, I-Bedford (left) and Sen. Charles J. Colgan, D-Prince William, laugh during the party for Putney.
Govs. Bob McDonnell (from left), Jim Gilmore, George Allen, Doug Wilder and Linwood Holton joined Del. Lacey Putney (right) at an event in Richmond marking Putney’s retirement.
Richmond Times Dispatch
Del. Lacey E. Putney, I-Bedford, poses for pictures with his wife, Carmela.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Nine Virginia governors — five in person, four on video — paid tribute Tuesday night to Del. Lacey E. Putney, I-Bedford, who is retiring after 52 years in the legislature.
Putney, the powerful chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and a bridge to Virginia’s political past, was honored during an event at Richmond CenterStage. More than one governor described Putney as a legislator from central casting, a melding of courtesy, judgment and principle.
Gov. Bob McDonnell and former Govs. Linwood Holton, Douglas Wilder, George Allen and Jim Gilmore spoke in person. Appearing on video were Gerald Baliles and Charles Robb and Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.
The governors noted that Putney has been a key advocate of tuition assistance grants, work force training services, the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, a “game-changing” bond package for higher education, and recent efforts to shore up funding for the state pension system.
“Lacey’s like that insurance company,” McDonnell said. “When Lacey Putney speaks, people listen.”
Baliles joked that he “first met Lacey Putney about a thousand years ago,” and that Putney knew Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson on a first-name basis.
Turning serious, he commended Putney as a man of “honor and integrity,” of “principle and protocol.”
Baliles said that when the fiscally conservative Putney voted for transportation taxes in 1986, “I favored immediate canonization.”
He recalled that Putney once disagreed with him on an issue, saying: “Governor, if I agreed with you, we’d both be wrong.”
Wilder said Putney has “been that transcending figure in Virginia government,” who does not merely look back, but “continues to look forward.”
Allen called Putney “the rudder” of the legislature, who embodied dignity, honor and service, much like the George Washington statue in the Capitol’s Rotunda.
Putney, who turned 85 in June, was diagnosed last year with throat cancer and missed several days of the 2013 legislative session because of illness.
In his own brief remarks, Putney said he was honored but did not deserve the tribute.
Paraphrasing Winston Churchill, he added: “If you have no misgivings, neither will I.”
Proceeds from the event are to establish the Lacey Putney Fellow Internship Program at the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.
It emphasizes its belief in “free markets, limited government and individual responsibility.”
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