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

Former Sen. Richard Stone Public domain

Richard Stone, Florida’s first Jewish senator since the Civil War and an adviser on the Camp David Peace Accords, died on Sunday in Rockville. He was 90.

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. A Democrat and member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Stone led efforts to secure aid for Israel and was an adviser 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 noting that he was a Protestant and Stone a Jew. Eckerd later apologized for highlighting Stone’s religion.

Stone is survived by his children, Nancy (Joel) Poznansky, of Bethesda; William (NaSheena Porter) of Arlington; Amelia; and Elliot (Bonnie Sockel) Stone. He is also survived by eight grandchildren, brothers
Nathan (Bev) and Bob (Lynn) Stone and two sisters-in-law.

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