Richard Stone (politician)

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Richard Stone
United States Ambassador to Denmark
In office
November 21, 1991 – October 14, 1993
PresidentGeorge H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Preceded byKeith Lapham Brown
Succeeded byEdward Elliott Elson
United States Senator
from Florida
In office
January 1, 1975 – December 31, 1980
Preceded byEdward Gurney
Succeeded byPaula Hawkins
16th Secretary of State of Florida
In office
January 5, 1971 – July 8, 1974
GovernorReubin Askew
Preceded byThomas Burton Adams Jr.
Succeeded byDorothy Glisson
Member of the Florida Senate
from the 48th District
In office
March 28, 1967 – November 3, 1970
Preceded byRedistricted
Succeeded byBob Graham
Personal details
Richard Bernard Stone

(1928-09-22)September 22, 1928
New York City, U.S.
DiedJuly 28, 2019(2019-07-28) (aged 90)
Rockville, Maryland, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Marlene Lois Stone
EducationHarvard University
Columbia Law School

Richard Bernard Stone (September 22, 1928 – July 28, 2019) was an American politician who served as a Democratic United States Senator from Florida from 1975 to 1980 and later served as Ambassador at Large to Central America and Ambassador to Denmark.

Early life and career[edit]

Stone was born in New York City, the son of Lily (Abbey) and Alfred Stone, who was born in Belgium.[1] His family was Jewish.[2] He moved to Florida and attended public schools in Dade County. Stone graduated cum laude with a B.A. from Harvard University in 1949 and received a LL.B. from Columbia Law School in 1954.[3][4] He returned to Florida and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1955, practicing in Miami.

In 1966, Stone became Miami City Attorney and was elected to the Florida Senate in 1967, representing Dade County.[4] In 1970, he was elected Secretary of State of Florida.[4] He resigned in July 1974, before his term ended, to focus on his campaign for the U.S. Senate.[5]


In 1974, Stone ran in an 11-candidate Democratic primary election. Congressman Bill Gunter finished first but Stone won a close subsequent runoff, 51% to 49%.[3] On the Republican side, incumbent Senator Edward Gurney chose not to run for reelection after being indicted for taking bribes in return for his influence with the Federal Housing Administration.[3] Millionaire Eckerd drug store chain owner, Jack Eckerd, defeated Paula Hawkins for the Republican nomination. In the general election, Stone narrowly defeated Eckerd in a race that saw the American Party candidate, John Grady, claim nearly 16% of the vote. Stone was the second Jewish U.S. Senator from Florida (after David Levy Yulee) and the first since the U.S. Civil War.[6][7] Outgoing Senator Gurney resigned on December 31, 1974 and Stone was officially appointed senator by Governor Reubin Askew on January 1, 1975, two days before his term was scheduled to begin.

During Stone's term in the U.S. Senate, he was a member of the Foreign Relations Committee and was a strong advocate for the Panama Canal Torrijos–Carter Treaties.[8] He also voted for neutron bomb funding, deregulation of natural gas, and public funding of congressional campaigns, and voted against an early version of the Kemp–Roth Tax Cut and funding medically necessary abortions.[3] He led efforts to secure congressional aid for Israel and also served as an important advisor during the 1978 Camp David Peace Treaty.[6] In addition to the Foreign Relations Committee, Stone served on the Agriculture Committee.[3]

At the onset of his term, Stone was one of three Jewish members of the U.S. Senate along with Jacob Javits and Abraham Ribicoff.[9]

Reelection bid[edit]

With a reputation for changing his mind and with the AFL-CIO actively campaigning against him, Stone was deemed vulnerable in his reelection bid.[3] Six Democrats entered the race for Stone's seat including his 1974 runoff opponent Bill Gunter who was Florida State Treasurer/Insurance Commissioner in 1980.[3] As was the case in 1974, Stone and Gunter were forced into a runoff but, unlike 1974, Gunter won the nomination in 1980. (Gunter was defeated by Paula Hawkins in the general election). Stone resigned three days early on December 31, 1980.


Senator Stone was included on president-elect Reagan's transition team the day after the 1980 elections.[10] From 1981 to 1982, he was senior resident partner at the law firm of Proskauer, Rose, Goetz & Mendelsohn in Washington, D.C.[4] During that time, the Spanish-speaking Stone[11] worked as a paid lobbyist for the right-wing Guatemalan government of Fernando Romeo Lucas García.[8] On January 19, 1982, Stone was named as Vice Chairman of the President's Commission for Radio Broadcasting to Cuba.[12] He was also vice chairman of the board of Capital Bank of Washington.[4] In February 1983, Stone served in the Department of State as Special Representative of the President for Public Diplomacy in Central America.[4]

On April 28, 1983, President Reagan announced Stone's appointment as Ambassador at Large and Special Envoy to Central America. Despite concerns over his recent ties with the oppressive right-wing Guatemalan government and how he would be perceived by the leftist FMLN of El Salvador, Stone was confirmed and commenced the position on May 26.[4][8][13][14][15] Stone was once a paid lobbyist for the conservative Guatemalan government of Fernando Romeo Lucas Garcia. This made Democrats argue that he was ill-suited to be President Reagan's appointee to be Ambassador at Large for Central America, a role that required negotiation with the leftist government of El Salvador and other administrations.[16] He resigned effective March 1, 1984, allegedly after experiencing personality conflicts with Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, Langhorne A. Motley.[17][18][19] Stone continued working with Capital Bank[disambiguation needed] and, in 1989, was named chief operating officer.[20] On November 9, 1991, he was nominated by President George H. W. Bush to be U.S. Ambassador to Denmark.[20] The nomination was successful and Stone served from November 21, 1991 to October 14, 1993.[21]

On December 28, 1995, Stone was appointed voting trustee for the discount drug store business, Dart Drug, which was owned by Herbert Haft and embroiled in a widely publicized family dispute.[22] On September 24, 1997, Haft and Stone voted to appoint Stone as acting chief executive officer and, in February 1998, Stone was named chief executive officer.[22] By mid-1998, Dart Group was sold to Richfood.[23]


Stone was married to Marlene Lois Stone and had three children.[4] He died on July 28, 2019 at a clinic in Rockville, Maryland from complications of pneumonia and other illnesses.[24][2] At the time of his death, he resided in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b c Langer, Emily (July 31, 2019). "Richard Stone, senator from Florida and envoy to Central America, dies at 90". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Abramowitz, Alan I.; Segal, Jeffrey Allan (1992). Senate Elections. University of Michigan Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-472-08192-6. Retrieved 2007-01-31.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Nomination of Richard B. Stone To Be Ambassador at Large, Serving as Special Representative of the President to Central America". Ronald Reagan Presidential Library speech archive. 1983-04-28. Retrieved 2007-02-15.
  5. ^ Florida, State Library and Archives of. "Resigning Secretary of State Dick Stone kissing his successor Mrs. Dorothy Glisson after she was sworn in - Tallahassee, Florida". Florida Memory. Retrieved 2016-06-19.
  6. ^ a b "Welcome | Jewish Museum of Florida - FIU". Retrieved 2015-05-31.
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c "Looking for Trouble". Time. 1983-05-09. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  9. ^ "The Range of American Jewry". Time. 1975-03-10. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
  10. ^ "Campaign `80 / Elec. / Reagan Administration". NBC Evening News - Vanderbilt University Television News Archive. 1980-11-05. Retrieved 2007-02-07.
  11. ^ "Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on the Nomination of Richard B. Stone To Be Ambassador at Large, Serving as Special Representative of the President to Central America". Ronald Reagan Presidential Library speech archive. 1983-04-28. Retrieved 2007-02-18.
  12. ^ "Appointments, January 19, 1982". Ronald Reagan Presidential Library speech archive. 1982-01-19. Retrieved 2007-02-18.
  13. ^ Smith, Hedrick (1983-04-27). "Reagan Said to Ask Ex-Senator to be Latin Envoy". The New York Times. p. 13. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
  14. ^ Smith, Hedrick (1983-04-29). "Reagan Appoints Florida Democrat as His Latin Envoy". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
  15. ^ Ambassadors at Large from 1949 to 2005 at United States Department of State. Retrieved on 2007-02-09.
  16. ^ Smith, Hedrick (29 April 1983). "REAGAN APPOINTS FLORIDA DEMOCRAT AS HIS LATIN ENVOY". New York Times. Retrieved 9 October 2014.
  17. ^ "Shlaudeman / Central America Envoy". ABC Evening News - Vanderbilt University Television News Archive. 1984-02-17. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
  18. ^ Molotsky, Irvin (1984-02-17). "Reagan's Latin Envoy Said to Quit After Clash With State Dept. Aide". The New York Times. p. 8. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
  19. ^ Cannon, Lou (1991). President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime. Simon & Schuster. p. 328. ISBN 0-671-54294-X. Retrieved 2007-02-09.
  20. ^ a b Nomination of Richard B. Stone To Be United States Ambassador to Denmark. John Woolley and Gerhard Peters, The American Presidency Project [online]. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California (hosted), Gerhard Peters (database). Available from World Wide Web: Dated 1991-11-09. Retrieved on 2007-02-22.
  21. ^ Denmark at United States Department of State. Retrieved on 2007-02-22.
  22. ^ a b "Shoppers Food Warehouse Corp, Form 10-K, Annual Report, Filing Date May 1, 1998". Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  23. ^ "Richfood Purchases Grocery/Book/Auto Parts Chains; Keeping Only Grocery". Food & Drink Weekly. 1998-05-25. Retrieved 2007-02-26.
  24. ^ Dolsten, Josefin (July 30, 2019). "Richard Stone, Florida's first Jewish Senator since Civil War, dies at 90". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved July 30, 2019.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Burton Adams Jr.
Secretary of State of Florida
Succeeded by
Dorothy Glisson
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Edward Gurney
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Florida
Served alongside: Lawton Chiles
Succeeded by
Paula Hawkins
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Keith Lapham Brown
United States Ambassador to Denmark
Succeeded by
Edward Elliott Elson
Party political offices
Preceded by
LeRoy Collins
Democratic Party nominee for United States Senator from Florida
(Class 3)

Succeeded by
Bill Gunter