Stephen Vermillion, a long-serving Capitol Hill staffer and avid rower, died Friday morning after losing a four-year-long battle with leukemia.
“If I could rate people from 1 to 10 on whether I would trust them to well represent me, and to do it in a way that would make me proud and would make an employee proud, Steve would be a 10,” Sensenbrenner said.
Sensenbrenner added in a speech on the House floor, “No one who worked with Steve Vermillion or who was touched by his life came away a poorer person because of it.”
Diaz-Balart, who retired from office in 2011, said Vermillion was more than just a colleague to him, as Vermillion served as a pallbearer at his father’s funeral in 2005.
“I have never known a stronger human being than Steve Vermillion because his strength was rooted in love,” Diaz-Balart said. “He deeply loved his family and he loved freedom. . . . He was an extraordinary man who, in important positions on Capitol Hill, helped countless individuals, both the powerful and the weak, treating them all with respect, courtesy and compassion.”
Rivera, who had known Vermillion for almost 25 years, said his time in Congress was enriched by Vermillion’s presence in his office and Vermillion’s knowledge of the legislative process and that Vermillion’s legacy is an inspiration to all who knew and loved him.
“Steve will be dearly missed by the Capitol family for his warmth and his sense of service to this institution and our nation,” Rivera said. “Steve demonstrated this service with great dignity the past two years as he simultaneously battled health problems while dutifully fulfilling his professional obligations with honor and distinction. His family can take great pride in the way Steve honored us all with his unwavering strength of character and dedication to the work of the American people.”
Hector Arguello, legislative director to Rivera and Vermillion’s longtime colleague, called Vermillion his hero and said he owes a great deal of his success to his friendship with Vermillion.
“I take great comfort that in his final days, he was able to rest and enjoy the warmth from the love of his family, friends earned from a life well lived and the abundance of goodwill his character inspired,” Arguello said. “He’s had an immeasurable influence on me and I will forever be grateful for having known him. He was my boss, my friend, my mentor, my hero, and I’ll never forget him.”
Vermillion is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and two teenage children, Sarah and Joseph.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.