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Richard Bernard Stone


Richard Bernard Stone

"Dick Stone" redirects here. For the baseball player, see Dick Stone (baseball).
For other people named Richard Stone, see Richard Stone (disambiguation).
Richard Bernard Stone
United States Senator
from Florida
In office
January 1, 1975 – December 31, 1980
Preceded by Edward J. Gurney
Succeeded by Paula Hawkins
Personal details
Born (1928-09-22) September 22, 1928 (age 85)
New York City, New York
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Marlene Lois Stone
Alma mater Harvard University
Columbia Law School
Religion Judaism

Richard Bernard Stone (born September 22, 1928) was a Democratic United States Senator from Florida and later served as Ambassador at Large to Central America and Ambassador to Denmark.

Early life and career

Richard Stone was born in New York City. 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.[1][2] He returned to Florida and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1955, practicing in Miami. In 1966, he became Miami City Attorney and was elected to the Florida State Senate in 1967.[2] In 1970, he was elected Secretary of State of Florida.[2]


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%.[1] On the Republican side, incumbent Senator Edward J. Gurney chose not to run for reelection after being indicted for taking bribes in return for his influence with the Federal Housing Administration.[1] 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. Outgoing Senator Gurney resigned on December 31, 1974 and Stone was officially appointed senator by Governor Reubin O'Donovan 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.[3] 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.[1] In addition to the Foreign Relations Committee, Stone served on the Agriculture Committee.[1]

When his term started, Stone was one of three Jewish members of the U.S. Senate along with Jacob K. Javits and Abraham A. Ribicoff.[4]

Reelection try

With a reputation for changing his mind and with the AFL-CIO actively campaigning against him, Stone was deemed vulnerable in his reelection bid.[1] 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.[1] 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.[5] From 1981 to 1982, he was senior resident partner at the law firm of Proskauer, Rose, Goetz & Mendelsohn in Washington, D.C.[2] During that time, the Spanish-speaking Stone[6] worked as a paid lobbyist for the right-wing Guatemalan government of Fernando Romeo Lucas García.[3] On January 19, 1982, Stone was named as Vice Chairman of the President's Commission for Radio Broadcasting to Cuba.[7] He was also vice chairman of the board of Capital Bank of Washington.[2] In February 1983, Stone served in the Department of State as Special Representative of the President for Public Diplomacy in Central America.[2]

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.[2][3][8][9][10] He resigned effective March 1, 1984, allegedly after experiencing personality conflicts with Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, Langhorne A. Motley.[11][12][13] Stone continued working with Capital Bank and, in 1989, was named chief operating officer.[14] On November 9, 1991, he was nominated by President George H. W. Bush to be U.S. Ambassador to Denmark.[14] The nomination was successful and Stone served from November 21, 1991 to October 14, 1993.[15]

On December 28, 1995, Stone was appointed voting trustee for the discount drug store business, Dart Group, which was owned by Herbert Haft and embroiled in a widely publicized family dispute.[16] 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.[16] By mid-1998, Dart Group was sold to Richfood.[17]


Richard Stone was married to Marlene Lois Stone and had three children.[2]

See also




  • United States Department of State: Ambassadors to Denmark
  • The Political Graveyard: Richard Bernard Stone
Preceded by
Edward J. Gurney
United States 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


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