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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 seven months later.

Richard A. Snelling
Richard A Snelling.jpg
76th and 78th Governor of Vermont
In office
January 10, 1991 – August 13, 1991
LieutenantHoward Dean
Preceded byMadeleine Kunin
Succeeded byHoward Dean
In office
January 6, 1977 – January 10, 1985
LieutenantGarry Buckley
Madeleine Kunin
Peter Smith
Preceded byThomas P. Salmon
Succeeded byMadeleine Kunin
Chair of the National Governors Association
In office
August 11, 1981 – August 10, 1982
Preceded byGeorge Busbee
Succeeded byScott M. Matheson
Personal details
Richard Arkwright Snelling

(1927-02-18)February 18, 1927
Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
DiedAugust 13, 1991(1991-08-13) (aged 64)
Shelburne, Vermont, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Barbara Weil
EducationLehigh University
Harvard University (BA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1945–1946



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 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.

Death and legacyEdit

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, Vermont.

The Snelling Center for Government at the University of Vermont was named in honor of Richard and Barbara Snelling.[7]


Governor Snelling's wife, Barbara Snelling (née Weil), served as Lieutenant Governor and a member of the Vermont State Senate.[8]

His daughter Diane B. Snelling served in the Vermont Senate after being appointed to succeed her mother in 2002.[9] She resigned in 2016 to accept appointment as head of the Vermont Natural Resources Board.[10]

Snelling's son Mark was an unsuccessful candidate for the 2010 Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor.[11]


  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 November 19, 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 November 19, 2012.
  6. ^ "Richard A. Snelling". National Governors Association. Retrieved November 19, 2012.
  7. ^ The Snelling Center, About the Snelling Center, accessed March 17, 2013
  8. ^ Shay Totten, Seven Days, Snelling Mulls Bid for Governor, September 1, 2009
  9. ^ Vermont Historical Society, Vermont Women's History Project, Profile, Diane B. Snelling, accessed January 17, 2013
  10. ^ "Governor Shumlin appoints Diane Snelling as Natural Resources Board Chair". Vermont Business Magazine. Off Grid Media Lab. March 29, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  11. ^ Associated Press, For Lt. Gov., Scott Wins GOP Nod; Howard Wins Dem Nomination, published by Vermont Public Radio, August 25, 2010

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Ralph A. Foote
Republican nominee Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
Deane C. Davis
Preceded by
Walter L. Kennedy
Republican nominee Governor of Vermont
1976, 1978, 1980, 1982
Succeeded by
John Easton
Preceded by
Stewart Ledbetter
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Vermont
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Jim Douglas
Preceded by
Michael Bernhardt
Republican nominee Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
John McClaughry
Preceded by
Otis R. Bowen
Chair of the Republican Governors Association
Succeeded by
John N. Dalton
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas P. Salmon
Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
Madeleine Kunin
Preceded by
Madeleine Kunin
Governor of Vermont
Succeeded by
Howard Dean
Preceded by
George Busbee
Chair of the National Governors Association
Succeeded by
Scott M. Matheson