Gov. Frank Keyser | Teen Ink

Gov. Frank Keyser MAG

By Anonymous

   Interview with Gov. Frank Keyser by J. F., Brandon, VT

What do you consider your single most important accomplishment?

Raising my family. That's the most important thing in anyone's life, the ability to pass on what you have to the next generation and to teach them to use it.

What was your childhood like?

I had a great childhood. I grew up in a small town here in Vermont called Chelsea. I attended school there, with lots of playmates. I had a great dog, and a couple cats. My grandparents had a farm and I was able to spend a lot of time there as a kid. I had certain streams that I liked to fish in; it was really relaxed until seventh grade.

What happened then?

In seventh grade I started working on my grandparent's farm during the summer and some during the school year. I did that through high school.

How did your childhood shape you?

My childhood gave me my attitude toward life, my morals, ethics - church played a big part. We as a family were really active in the church. I went to church camps in the summer. I got my work ethic in childhood.

So did that early activity in the church carry through?

Well, my wife and I aren't active in a Sunday sort of way, but we are contributing members of two churches. I guess religion is more of a day-to-day thing now.

Did any of your childhood hobbies carry through to adulthood?

Yes, I loved to build as a kid. I'd nail boards together and make different stuff. Only, in those days you used a hand saw and I wasn't able to saw the boards myself, so I'd have a whole stack of boards waiting for my father when he came home for lunch. I still build now. I still love to fish, too; it teaches patience. I started hunting when I was old enough and I still do that. You learn a lot about the habits of wildlife and it's great just to be in the woods.

What was your schooling?

After school in Chelsea through ninth grade, I went to the big high school in Montpelier, until graduation. It was a big change - going from a very small school to what was then a very big one. I played all the sports. This was World War II and immediately after graduating in 1945 I joined the Navy. But the war ended, so after a year I went to college at Tufts for three years. In 1949 I went to Boston University School of Law. I applied to take the bar exam without having graduated. I won't go into the details, but they let me take the exam. I taught myself what I needed to know that I hadn't learned in school, and when I took the bar, I passed. I moved back to Chelsea and started practicing law a year ahead of the rest of my class. When they had the graduation ceremonies in June, I couldn't attend because I had cases in court. This was 1952.

While practicing, I became interested in how laws were made and was elected to my first term in the Vermont State Legislature in 1955. These were two-year terms and I served for three terms. During the last one I was elected Speaker of the House.

In '61 I ran for Governor and won. I served until '63. After that, I moved with my family to Proctor, Vermont. I joined the Vermont Company - one of the largest corporations in Vermont at that time. I became president and CEO. We sold that in the late '70s. I do mostly business law now.

What was it like to be Governor of Vermont?

It was ... interesting. My original reason for becoming involved in politics was legal, but during my time in the legislature I became interested in what was needed for the State. We accomplished quite a lot, but it was an 18-hour-a-day commitment. You were involved with the executive branch and public relations stuff, too.

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