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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The Passing of a Legend: Lola Aiken

This tribute to Lola Aiken was written by Scott Wheeler, publisher of Vermont’s Northland Journal.

Scott Wheeler and Lola Aiken stopping to smile for the camera.
Scott Wheeler and Lola Aiken stopping to smile for the camera.
One of the strongest and most inspirational women I have ever known, Lola Aiken, has passed away at 102 years old. Although she is best known as the chief of staff turned wife of the late great Vermont Governor turned U.S. Senator, George Aiken, the man who popularized the phrase – the Northeast Kingdom, she was also a political powerhouse and player in Washington D.C. in her own rite. Most of all, though, she was a dear friend and mentor to many.

Lola (she insisted people call her Lola, not Mrs. Aiken) was also one of my staunch supporters when I served in the Vermont House. For that matter, it was she, while I was interviewing her for an article, who convinced me to run for office. Since she lived in Montpelier during her final years, we shared a number of meals together. She was quick to share her thoughts, but slow to judge others.

She loved to talk about the years she spent in Washington D.C. with her late husband, and she enjoyed sharing her wisdom with the younger generations of lawmakers. However, one thing that troubled her was the increase in less than civil behavior of too many lawmakers, especially in Washington D.C. – among ALL parties. She worried that far too many of them had lost sight of the fact that their job is to represent the PEOPLE, and not the PARTY, and that too many had lost the art of civil discourse.

Lola and Senator Aiken had a deep love for the Northeast Kingdom.

“The Northeast Kingdom was just one of his favorite places in the world,” she told me in one of several interviews. “He always loved the people up there. He used to say that many of the people didn’t have much of anything, or have big jobs, but they were always happy. They didn’t complain as other people would complain in the same situation. They just made do with what they had. The people up there didn’t put on “airs” and they always welcomed you.” —

The following is a segment of my radio show, the VT Voice, in which I interviewed Lola about her husband — https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/northland/audio/LolaAiken.mp3

Rest in peace, Lola. You made the world a far better place. I am SO honored to have known you.

Scott

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