Tom Walsh (Wyoming politician)

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Thomas Edmund "Tom" Walsh, Sr.
Wyoming State Representative from District 56 (Natrona County)
In office
2003–2008
Preceded by Patricia Nagel[1]
Succeeded by Tim Stubson
Mayor of Casper, Wyoming
In office
January 1, 2000 – December 31, 2000
Preceded by James W. "Tim" Monroe
Succeeded by Paul C. Bertoglio
Casper City Council member
In office
January 1997 – May 13, 1997
In office
January 1999 – December 2002
In office
August 5, 2008 – December 2008
Personal details
Born (1942-10-31)October 31, 1942
Thermopolis, Hot Springs County, Wyoming, United States
Died January 1, 2010(2010-01-01) (aged 67)
Casper, Natrona County, Wyoming
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Rita Marie Christensen Walsh (married 1963-his death)
Children Thomas E. Walsh, Jr.

Christopher E. Walsh

Alma mater Thermopolis High School

University of Wyoming
University of Northern Colorado

Occupation Educator

Retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel

Religion Roman Catholic
(1) Over a 37-year military career, Walsh made 2,054 parachute jumps and was a marksmanship instructor.

(2) As the mayor of Casper in 2000, Walsh instituted Adult Drug Court.

(3) Walsh made fourteen trips to Southeast Asia at his own expense looking for POWs and MIAs.

(4) Walsh was involved in more than 550 military burials through the Natrona County United Veterans Council.

Thomas Edmund Walsh, Sr. (October 31, 1942 – January 1, 2010), known as Tom Walsh, was a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, a Wyoming educator, a mayor of Casper, and a Republican member of the Wyoming House of Representatives from Natrona County from 2003 to 2008.

Walsh served as vice mayor in 1999 and as mayor in 2000, positions elected annually by the Casper City Council from among its own membership. He served three nonconsecutive stints on the city council, 1997, 1999–2002, and 2008.[2] He was elected to the legislature in 2002, 2004, and 2006. He resigned his House seat in January 2008, after having been stricken with leukemia, which ultimately claimed his life at the age of sixty-seven on New Years Day, 2010. Years earlier, Walsh had been a volunteer firefighter in Casper. As mayor, he launched the Natrona County Adult Drug Court.[3]

Biographical sketch[edit]

Walsh was born to a pioneer Wyoming family and reared in Thermopolis in northwestern Wyoming.[4] He was a close friend of the Democratic Governor Dave Freudenthal, who is also a native of Thermopolis. He held bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Wyoming at Laramie.[5] He held the Ed.D., the terminal degree in professional education, from the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley, Colorado.[6]

Having enlisted at the age of sixteen in the United States Army as a private. He served on active duty at Fort Ord, California. His military service extended for thirty-seven years. He made 2,054 parachute jumps and was a marksmanship instructor. His decorations were the Army Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and Armed Forces Reserve Medal with two oak leaf clusters.[7]

Walsh was a long-term educator in Natrona County, having been a teacher in Lovell, the principal of Midwest School, Pineview Elementary,[6] and Dean Morgan Junior High School, and then an assistant superintendent of the Natrona County School District. He also taught for a time at a college in Wisconsin. He and his wife, the former Rita Marie Christensen (born 1943), his sweetheart from Thermopolis High School, married in 1963. A retired educator, Mrs. Walsh is a member of the Natrona County School Board. They had two sons, Thomas, Jr., an accountant, and Christopher E. Walsh, a Casper police captain[6] and four grandchildren.[7] He had an affiliated with the Salvation Army, the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary International, the Army Reserve Officers Association, the Cowboy Joe Club, and the University of Wyoming Alumni Association.[5]

Veterans issues[edit]

On September 17, 2009, Walsh was honored by the Salvation Army, where he cooked breakfast for the indigent every Thursday morning. Governor Freudenthal also proclaimed "Tom Walsh Day" in Wyoming. At the ceremony, Freudenthal said, "The truth is we're all grains of sand, and all of it disappears. Veterans and our deployed folks owe Tom a great debt of gratitude for all of his work on their behalf."[8] The governor recalled having sent Walsh, then a state legislator, on a fact-finding mission to Mississippi to determine if National Guard troops were being treated comparably to active duty military personnel: "We stirred the pot, caused a fair amount of trouble, and the end result was that we were able to ensure that our Guard folks got the same equipment, training, and degree of respect as the regular military", Freudenthal said.[8]

Walsh made fourteen trips[8] at his own expense to Southeast Asia to investigate reports of American servicemen being held there after the conclusion of the Vietnam War.[4] He visited Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand.[7] The POW/MIA flag flies on state buildings because of Walsh's legislative endeavors.[6] Ironically, though he served in the Army and Army Reserves from 1959–1995, he was not called to active duty during the Vietnam War, a source of reportedly "great disappointment" to Walsh.[8] Casper Fire Chief Mark Young called Walsh "a role model for all of us. We can learn compassion and that selfless attitude toward others from him."[8] Victor Doughty of the Salvation Army's Denver office compared Walsh to the Salvation Army's founder, William Booth of England: "They lived their lives for God and country, for family and community."[8]

Death and legacy[edit]

Walsh's funeral service was held on January 4, 2010, at the chapel of the Oregon Trail State Veterans Cemetery in Evansville, a facility expanded through Walsh's legislative efforts. Pastor Ellis Kaster fought back tears as he presided over the services.[9] Military honors were performed by the Wyoming Army National Guard and the Natrona County United Veterans Council. Walsh had himself participated through the council in more than 550 military burials.[7]

After his illness, Walsh accepted a five-month appointment to the city council. The Casper Tribune wrote that he "never stopped caring about Casper and its people. He will indeed be missed."[10] Casper Circuit Judge Mike Huber called Walsh "a giant who will be missed . . . a measure of a man's worth is if he left this world a better place than he found it."[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2001 Wyoming House of Representatives members". legisweb.state.wy.us. Retrieved January 7, 2010. 
  2. ^ Diane Goehring, Executive Assistant to the City Manager, Casper, Wyoming, (307) 235-8224
  3. ^ a b "A giant who will be missed, January 7, 2010". trib.com. Retrieved January 7, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Tom Walsh Day". governor.wy.gov. Retrieved January 7, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b "House District 56". legisweb.state.wy.us. Retrieved January 7, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Carol Crump, "Dr. Tom Walsh, 67, died of leukemia in Casper on New Years Day, 2010"". Casper Journal, January 3, 2010. Retrieved January 7, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Obituary of Tom Walsh". Cheyenne Tribune-Eagle. Retrieved January 7, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f "Salvation Army Bestows National Award: Community Honors Tom Walsh". trib.com. Retrieved January 7, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Featured photo: Walsh mourned". Billings Gazette, Billings, Montana, January 5, 2010. Retrieved January 7, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Walsh: He Never Stopped Caring, January 5, 2010". trib.com. Retrieved January 7, 2010. 
Preceded by
James W. "Tim" Monroe
Mayor of Casper, Wyoming

Thomas Edmund "Tom" Walsh, Sr.
2000

Succeeded by
Paul C. Bertoglio
Preceded by
Patricia Nagel
Wyoming State Representative from District 56 (Natrona County)

Thomas Edmund "Tom" Walsh, Sr.
2003–2008

Succeeded by
Tim Stubson