Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Richard Stone, Florida's first Jewish senator since Civil War, dies at 90


August 9, 2019

(JTA)—Richard Stone, Florida’s first Jewish senator since the Civil War and an adviser on the Camp David Peace Accords, has died.

Stone died on Sunday at the age of 90, his son-in-law Joel Poznansky told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an email.

He was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Miami Beach. He graduated from Harvard College and Columbia Law School and worked as a lawyer in Florida prior to entering local politics there.

In 1975, he became the state’s first Jewish senator since the Civil War. David Levy Yulee, who was born Jewish but later converted to Christianity, served as a senator for the state in 1855-1861.

A Democrat and member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Stone led efforts to secure aid for Israel and was an advisor on the 1978 Camp David Accords which set the stage for the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. As a senator, he traveled to Israel where he met with political leaders including Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

After losing his reelection bid in 1980, he served as ambassador-at-large for Central America under President Ronald Reagan and as ambassador to Denmark under President George H.W. Bush. In the latter role, he honored members of the Danish resistance to the Nazis during World War II.

He served on President Ronald Reagan’s transition team in 1980 and later worked as a lawyer.

In his 1974 bid for Senate, Stone’s Republican opponent, Jack Eckerd, tried attacking him by highlighting his Jewish identity. Eckerd ran ads prior to and on Election Day itself noting that he was a Protestant and Stone a Jew. Eckerd later apologized for highlighting Stone’s religion.


Reader Comments(1)

pauljeser writes:

I knew, worked with, and greatly respected Sen. Stone z’l during my years as the Orlando Jewish Fed Exec. His defeat in the primary by anti-Semite Bill Gunter was the reason that, for the first time in my life, I voted Republican - voting for Sen. Paula Hawkins. Sen. Stone was a MENSCH!


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