Longtime Lyme farmer, state legislator Jack Tiffany dies

Former State Rep. John J. Tiffany II is shown in this 1986 Day file photo. Tiffany died last week.
Former State Rep. John J. Tiffany II is shown in this 1986 Day file photo. Tiffany died last week.

Lyme — Former state Rep. John J. Tiffany II, a man who cast quite the shadow in  the General Assembly for three decades, died Friday.

Tiffany, who preferred to be called “Jack,” was well-respected by both his Republican and Democratic colleagues at the state Capitol, and a man who endeared himself throughout the state with his candor, strong work-ethic, consistency, integrity and dedication to his constituents.

Never known to seek the spotlight, Tiffany, a Republican, was a calming presence in the halls of the Capitol over his 30-year tenure. A man younger legislators could often turn to for guidance and who had a philosophy that one reporter said allowed him to take his job, but not himself, too seriously.

“I don’t tilt at windmills up here,” Tiffany said during an interview in 1983.

Born to Leon and Gwendolyn Tiffany, Jack Tiffany grew up in Lyme, where is family had operated a large dairy farm for seven generations — he and his brother Leon would be the eighth. Tiffany attended Old Lyme High School and graduated in 1950 as valedictorian of his class. He then went on to graduate from the University of Connecticut, studying dairy production.

After graduation, Tiffany was drafted into the Army, where he served several years before being honorably discharged. Tiffany returned to the farm and worked alongside his father and brother, in addition to be elected to the Board of Selectmen in the 1960s.

A few years later, he was elected to represent the 36th District in the Connecticut General Assembly as a state representative. He also married his wife, Susan, in 1966.

Never forgetting where he came from, Tiffany was never one to shy away from advocating for farmers. During his tenure, he served on several committees, including environment and agriculture, and he was a lifetime member of the Lyme Grange.

One of his most iconic moments in the legislature came when Tiffany, a man often measured, made an emotional plea to politicians advocating on the behalf of farms. He pleaded with legislators to reconsider plans to implement an increased inheritance tax that had a 10 percent surcharge and did not exempt farmers.

“I am a dairy farmer by birth, I am a dairy farmer by education and I am a dairy farmer by choice,” said an emotional Tiffany addressing legislators in 1983. “Many of you gypsies in the Hall don’t treat land as farmers do.”

“We don’t really own this land, we are the stewards of this land,” he said.

Tiffany himself was a farmer at heart and built a reputation for continuing to work his farm throughout his tenure in the legislature, rising early to handle farm chores before heading to Hartford.

Even when Hurricane Bob knocked out the electricity to a machine that measured  feed for his cows, Tiffany found humor in the problem.

“It’s one thing to be romantic and eat by candlelight and another to have 85 hungry cows,” Tiffany said.

In 1992, Tiffany finally left the General Assembly, a welcome change for a man who although dedicated in service, was also dedicated to his family.

“I always considered this to be important, but my life never centered around it,” he said when leaving the legislature in 1992.

Tiffany continued to work his farm after returning home and spent time with his family. He also continued to advocate on behalf of farmers even after leaving public service.

Tiffany is survived by his wife, Susan, daughter Hannah, son John, and two grandchildren, Erica and Lauren.

c.clark@theday.com

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments