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the time he matriculated to Mr. Jefferson’s University in August of 1970, he was
no less than a full blown political junkie: fueled by the events of the past decade, the Kennedy assassinations and the war in Vietnam, yet guided by his father’s belief in the virtues of civic participation.
Part of the first coeducational first year class at UVa, Larry would later live on the Lawn, a distinct honor reserved only for the best and brightest of the graduating class, before earning his bachelor’s degree in government as a Phi Beta Kappa. His friendship with Edgar Shannon blossomed during his fourth year, while he was student council president and Edgar Shannon was serving his final year as University president. After making his promise to Edgar Shannon, he began masters work at Princeton University’s prestigious Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy and International Affairs. At the urging of his mentor, he applied for and was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship. In 1975 he was whisked across the Atlantic Ocean to Queens College,
Oxford University where he completed his doctorate in politics in less than
and when Larry Sabato returned in September of 1978 to join the faculty, his salary was a mere $14,000 a year.
It would be another 30 years, after both Edgar and Eleanor Shannon had passed away, before Larry would mention his promise again.
Those who know Larry know that he has never been shy about his life changing experience at the University of Virginia and the profound influence of Edgar Shannon on his academic career. Before coming to Charlottesville, the Norfolk native was raised in a lower middle class family by his parents Nuncio and Margaret. After living through the Great Depression, his father volunteered to fight in Europe during the Second World War and then returned stateside to work for a Navy contractor. Every morning father and son would paw through the daily paper, analyzing the political events of the day. The younger Sabato distinctly remembers the four Kennedy-Nixon debates, the election, and assassination of JFK, and five years later, the assassination of Robert Kennedy. Son and father also went door to door for Kennedy in 1960. It was “heresy” for Catholics not to support Kennedy, according to Larry. By
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