Charles Bristow, former judge, dies at 66
By SUSAN ALLEN Times Argus Editor | October 18,2007
FILE / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Charles Bristow is shown in a 1984 photo.
BARRE — Charles "Charlie" Bristow, whose remarkable career in Vermont public service included tenure as a district court judge and commissioner of Public Safety, died Tuesday. He was 66.
Bristow, who lived in Barre Town with his wife of 46 years, Claudia, had graduated with a law degree from Tulane University. He moved to Vermont in 1970 and joined the staff of then-Attorney General James Jeffords, serving as deputy attorney general for Vermont.
Then-Gov. Thomas Salmon tapped Bristow to serve as district court judge in the mid-1970s, and in that role he focused on streamlining Vermont's judiciary.
In 1981, then-Attorney General John Easton chose Bristow to serve as his deputy, a post Bristow held briefly before being chosen by the late Gov. Richard Snelling that year to head the Public Safety Department, overseeing Vermont State Police.
Bristow also taught at Vermont Law School, Vermont College and Norwich University and became a professor at the New England School of Law in Boston.
For a decade until his retirement four years ago, Bristow worked at the Vermont Legislative Council, helping lawmakers craft legislation. He focused on judiciary issues.
News of his death, while expected, left friends and coworkers saddened.
"I always think about the Readers Digest that had 'the most unforgettable character you ever met' article, and that would be Charlie for me," said Sen. Richard Sears, D-Bennington, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Bristow staffed Sears' committee during his tenure at the Legislative Council and helped the panel write and pass juvenile justice laws.
Sears outlined Bristow's extensive history in state government, adding with a touch of awe, "Just his unique life experiences were so great — and there he was helping me to write laws."
William Russell, chief counsel at the Legislative Council, said of Bristow, "He was just excellent. He had the ability to get along with everybody. He was everybody's mentor. He brought in desserts for the operations staff that he cooked himself."
Bristow and his wife had worked together — although on different issues — at the council for several years until their mutual retirement.
Bristow passed away at the Woodridge Nursing Home in Berlin. Calling hours will be at Barber and Lanier Funeral home from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday.