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Edward Flanagan, the long-serving Vermont lawmaker and 1973 College graduate, died at a nursing home in New Hampshire on Nov. 3. He was 66 years old.

Flanagan, who worked as the Vermont state senator from 2005 to 2011, had suffered from a traumatic brain injury from a 2005 car crash, The Chicago Tribune reported. His health deteriorated in the past few years as a direct result of that accident, Vermont state Rep. Mary Sullivan (D-Burlington) told the Burlington Free Press.

In 1995, two years after he was elected as Vermont state auditor, Flanagan said publicly that he was gay. He was re-elected the following year, making him the first openly gay lawmaker elected to a statewide office. 

Flanagan, who was described by The New York Times as a progressive in the Democratic Party, advocated for a range of issues during his political career, including health care, civil rights, and environmental sustainability. 

 “He was passionate and very progressive,” Sullivan told the Burlington Free Press. “He was guided by a moral compass.” 

Conor Casey, the executive director of the Vermont Democratic Party agreed, adding that Flanagan made a mark by coming out even when it was politically risky to do so. 

“He leaves a tremendous legacy and a lot for us to strive for in the party,” Casey said, the Burlington Free Press reported.

At Penn, Flanagan studied history and political science in addition to playing defensive tackle for the Penn football team.

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