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People & Peoples

Verda James, First Full-term Woman Speaker of Wyoming's House of Representatives

Verda James, a schoolteacher, deputy director of public instruction for the state of Wyoming, assistant superintendent of the Natrona County schools, and later a faculty member at Casper College, was first elected to the Wyoming House in 1954. She served eight terms. During the last term, 1969-1970, she was elected House speaker, the first woman to serve in that position for a full term.

Robert Roripaugh, Wyoming Poet Laureate 1995-2002

The clear, quiet poetry and fiction of Robert Roripaugh, poet laureate of Wyoming from 1995 through 2002, has long been informed by his youth on his family’s ranch near Lander. In the early 1950s, Roripaugh won bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of the Wyoming before spending two years with the U.S. Army in Japan, where he met and married his wife, Yoshiko. In 1958, the Atlantic Monthly published a short story, and Roripaugh has been publishing and winning prizes on a national level ever since. Also that year he began teaching in the English department at the University of Wyoming, rising to the rank of full professor before retiring in 1993.

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Encyclopedia | W. Edwards Deming grew up in difficult financial circumstances in Powell, Wyo., early in the 20th century. Still, he worked his way through the University of Wyoming and Yale and became absorbed by statistics as a way to solve problems. After World War II, he shared his ideas on efficiency with Japanese manufacturers eager to rebuild their shattered economy. The Japanese used that knowledge to flip the global economy on its head and beat U.S. industry at its own game.
Encyclopedia | President Grant appointed John Thayer Governor of the Wyoming Territory in February 1875 and he took the oath of office March 1, 1875.
Encyclopedia | The JC Penney Company, long among the world’s largest department store chains, traces its roots to a one-room shop in a small Wyoming coal-mining town at the turn of the last century. Penney’s career in Wyoming lasted just a decade, but in 1902, Wyoming provided exactly what young Penney needed to found a chain that has survived, as of 2011, for 109 years.
Encyclopedia | Lucy Morrison Moore, “The Sheep Queen of Wyoming,” was a leading sheep producer during the heyday of public-land sheep ranching from the 1880s to 1920s. Smart, tough and slightly eccentric, she and her family survived brutal, isolated conditions and attacks from cattle ranchers.
Encyclopedia | Mary Godat Bellamy, Wyoming’s first woman legislator, was elected to the state House of Representatives in 1910, where she sponsored bills aimed at improving the lives of women and children. She was active as well in the national movement for votes for women.
Encyclopedia | Owen Wister’s enormously popular novel, The Virginian, published in 1902, was set in Wyoming and established the cowboy in American literature as the noble, competent, humorous, laconic hero still familiar today. Wister, a Philadelphian, first came to Wyoming in 1885, looking for stories and better health. He visited the state 14 more times between then and 1900, writing and publishing western stories and books of stories before The Virginian made him famous and rich, and set a pattern for thousands of western novels and films to come.
Encyclopedia | Elected to fill out the unexpired term of Gov. DeForest Richards in 1904, Bryant B. Brooks was re-elected to another term in 1907. He was also the first governor to live in the newly complete governor's mansion.
Encyclopedia | Lester Hunt was elected to the House of the State Legislature in 1932, elected Secretary of State in 1934 and 1938, and elected Governor in 1942 where he served until 1949.

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