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Thyra Thomson, 96, pioneering woman in politics

This undated image provided by Wyoming State Archives shows ThyrThomswho died Tuesday June 11 2013  Cheyenne Wyo. Thomsserved as

This undated image provided by the Wyoming State Archives shows Thyra Thomson, who died Tuesday June 11, 2013, in Cheyenne, Wyo. Thomson served as secretary of state from 1963 to 1987. (AP Photo/Wyoming State Archives)

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Updated: July 17, 2013 6:35AM

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Former Wyoming Secretary of State Thyra Thomson died Tuesday in Cheyenne. She was 96.

Ms. Thomson served as secretary of state from 1963 to 1987. She went into politics following the death of her husband, former U.S. Rep. Keith Thomson (R-Wyo.). He died in 1960 shortly after being elected to the U.S. Senate. She and her husband had three sons: Bruce, Bill and KC.

Governor Matt Mead called Ms. Thomson one of the mostly highly regarded political figures in Wyoming’s history.

“I have known her since childhood as a wonderful person with an immense amount of character and an abiding love for Wyoming,” Mead said. “Carol and I will miss her — the entire State of Wyoming will miss her.”

Ms. Thomson, the first woman elected secretary of state in Wyoming, served with Gov. Clifford Hansen, Mead’s grandfather, in the 1960s. She also served with Governors Stan Hathaway and Ed Herschler, serving as acting governor whenever one of the three went out of state.

Max Maxfield, Wyoming’s current secretary of state, issued a statement calling Ms. Thomson a legendary public servant.

“Her contributions to her beloved State are immeasurable and significant in the legacy she leaves us all,” Maxfield said. “During her historic 24 years, as Wyoming’s Secretary of State, she touched the lives of citizens throughout the State. Though her dedicated service and statesmanship, Thyra Thomson earned a well-deserved and iconic place in Wyoming’s history.”

U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) issued a statement saying he and his wife Bobbi are saddened at Ms. Thomson’s death.

“In Washington, I have a picture in my Senate office of Thyra and President Ronald Reagan for all to see,” Barrasso said. “It was taken in Cheyenne when she was secretary of state. It is a constant reminder of Thyra’s leadership, her legacy and her commitment to our state and our nation.”

A statement from Ms. Thomson’s family stated that she led efforts for equal pay for women and recognition of the comparable worth of women’s jobs. It also states that she was vocal that adequate day care at affordable prices was essential.

The Wyoming State Archives has posted an interview that historian Mark Junge conducted with Ms. Thomson in 1993. In it, she states that she quickly saw in working in state government how it was a “man’s world and a woman’s place.”

Ms. Thomson said women then made up about 80 percent of the work force, but only 2 percent of those employees receiving the highest salaries were women. She noted the irony of that fact in Wyoming, the first state to give women the right to vote.

Ms. Thomson was elected president of the North American Securities Administrators Association in 1974 in recognition of her regulation of the sale of new issues of securities. She served on a number of international groups and associations.

After retiring in 1987, she sat on the boards of the Cheyenne Symphony, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody and the University of Wyoming.


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