Richard A. Snelling

Richard A. Snelling
76th & 78th Governor of Vermont
In office
January 10, 1991  August 13, 1991
Lieutenant Howard Dean
Preceded by Madeleine M. Kunin
Succeeded by Howard Dean
In office
January 6, 1977  January 10, 1985
Lieutenant T. Garry Buckley
Madeleine M. Kunin
Preceded by Thomas P. Salmon
Succeeded by Madeleine M. Kunin
Member of the Vermont House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Born Richard Arkwright Snelling
(1927-02-18)February 18, 1927
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Died August 13, 1991(1991-08-13) (aged 64)
Shelburne, Vermont
Resting place

Shelburne Village Cemetery

Shelburne, Vermont
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Barbara W. Snelling
Alma mater Harvard University
Profession Businessman, Politician
Religion Unitarian
Military service
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1945–1946
Unit Infantry

Richard Arkwright Snelling (February 18, 1927  August 13, 1991) was the 76th and 78th Governor of Vermont from 1977 to 1985 and from January 10, 1991 until his death from heart failure.


The son of chemist Walter O. Snelling, Snelling was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1945, and served at the end of World War II and in the post-war occupation of Germany as an investigator and information bulletin editor. He attained the rank of technician fifth grade and was discharged in 1946.[1][2] On June 14, 1947, he married Barbara T. Weil, and they had four children. He attended the University of Havana and Lehigh University, and received his bachelor's degree in government and economics from Harvard University in 1948.[3][4]


A member of the Republican Party, Snelling served in the Vermont House of Representatives from 1959 to 1960, and again from 1973 to 1977, and he held the post of majority leader in his final term.[5] He was a delegate to Republican National Convention from Vermont, 1960, 1968, 1980, and chair of Chittenden County Republican Party from 1963 to 1966. He was a member of Vermont Republican State Executive Committee from 1963 to 1966, and a candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Vermont in 1964.

Snelling founded Shelburne Industries, Inc., and chaired several companies. His business affiliations include the Young Presidents' Association, the Chief Executives Organization, and the World Business Council. He was director of Ski Industries of America and Associated Industries of Vermont.[6]

Snelling was first elected governor in 1976 and was later re-elected to three additional consecutive terms  in 1978, 1980, and 1982  but left office in January 1985, choosing not to run in 1984. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 1986 but lost to incumbent Patrick Leahy in a landslide. In 1990 Snelling was once again elected governor, becoming the first Vermont governor to win five mandates.[7]

Death and legacy

Snelling died of a heart attack seven months after his final inauguration, and Lieutenant Governor Howard Dean, a Democrat, was sworn in as governor. Snelling is interred at Shelburne Village Cemetery, Shelburne, Chittenden County, Vermont.[8]

The Snelling Center for Government at the University of Vermont was named in honor of Richard and Barbara Snelling.[9]


Governor Snelling's wife, Barbara Snelling (née Weil), served as Lieutenant Governor and a member of the Vermont State Senate.[10]

His daughter Diane B. Snelling has served in the Vermont Senate since being appointed to succeed her mother in 2002.[11]

Snelling's son Mark was an unsuccessful candidate for the 2010 Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor.[12]


  1. Sobel, Robert; Raimo, John W. (1978). Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978. Volume 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books. p. 1618.
  2. Hand, Samuel B.; Marro, Anthony; Terry, Stephen C. Philip Hoff: How Red Turned Blue in the Green Mountain State. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England. p. 98. ISBN 978-1-61168-207-6.
  3. "Richard A. Snelling". National Governors Association. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  4. The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives: 1991-1993. New York, NY: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1998. p. 504.
  5. "Richard A. Snelling". NNDB Soylent Communications. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  6. "Richard A. Snelling". National Governors Association. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  7. "Richard A. Snelling". Find A Grave. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  8. "Richard A. Snelling". Find A Grave. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
  9. The Snelling Center, About the Snelling Center, accessed March 17, 2013
  10. Shay Totten, Seven Days, Snelling Mulls Bid for Governor, September 1, 2009
  11. Vermont Historical Society, Vermont Women's History Project, Profile, Diane B. Snelling, accessed January 17, 2013
  12. Associated Press, For Lt. Gov., Scott Wins GOP Nod; Howard Wins Dem Nomination, published by Vermont Public Radio, August 25, 2010
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Richard A. Snelling.
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas P. Salmon
Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
Madeleine M. Kunin
Preceded by
Madeleine M. Kunin
Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
Howard Dean
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