Mary Mead

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Mary Mead
Personal details
Born Mary Elisabeth Hansen
(1935-06-21)June 21, 1935
Jackson, Wyoming, U.S.
Died June 21, 1996(1996-06-21) (aged 61)
Grand Teton National Park,
Wyoming, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Peter Mead (Divorced)
Dick Steinhour (1995–1996)
Children Bradford Scott
Alma mater University of Wyoming
Religion Episcopalianism

Mary Elisabeth Hansen Mead (June 21, 1935 – June 21, 1996) was a rancher, businesswoman, and a Republican politician in the U.S. state of Wyoming. She was the daughter of Governor and U.S. Senator Clifford Hansen[1] and the mother of current Governor Matt Mead.

In 1990, Mead was the unsuccessful GOP nominee for governor, having been defeated by the incumbent Democrat Mike Sullivan of Douglas in Converse County in southeastern Wyoming. In the general election, Sullivan prevailed with 104,638 votes (65.4 percent) to Mead's 55,471 ballots (34.6 percent). Mead polled only 4,311 more votes against Sullivan than she had received in her closed primary in August and was hence unable to procure support beyond her party base.[2]


Mead was born in Jackson, Wyoming, to Clifford Peter Hansen (1912–2009), a native of Lincoln County, Wyoming, and the former Martha Close (1914–2011), who was reared in Sheridan, Wyoming.[3] Her brother, Peter Arthur Hansen (born 1936), resides in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

In 1957, she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Wyoming in Laramie. She married Peter Bradford Mead (born 1933), who coincidentally partly bears the same name as her father, brother, and grandfather. For more than twenty years, she and Peter managed the family cattle ranch, originally homesteaded by her grandparents, Peter Christofferson Hansen and the former Sylvia Irene Wood. The Meads reared three children. After their divorce, she ran the ranch with her parents and then with her older son, Bradford Scott Mead, and his wife, Katherine L. "Kate" Mead[4] (both born 1957), a native of Vermont, who came to Wyoming on a skiing scholarship and in 2006 was the Republican nominee for the District 16 seat in the Wyoming House of Representatives.[5] In 1995, she married Dick Steinhour.[4] Mead's former husband, Peter Mead, resides in Tetonia, Idaho.

Mead was a president of the Wyoming Business Alliance and a member of the University of Wyoming Alumni Board, the Wyoming Centennial Commission, and the National Public Lands Advisory Council. She was active in both the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, of which her father was the president from 1953 to 1955, and the Wyoming Tax Payers Association. In Jackson, she sat on the boards of St. John's Hospital and the Jackson State Bank.[4]

She lived on the Mead Ranch, officially the "Lower Bar BC", which prior to its sale – for more than $100 million – was one of the largest pastoral private holdings in Teton County. The Hansens and Meads were particularly known for conservation and stewardship activities on their properties.[6]

By December 2001, the Lower Bar BC had become no longer economically productive and surrendered its 2,000-acre (8.1 km2) lease in Grand Teton Park.[7]

Death and legacy[edit]

Though considered an expert horsewoman, Mead was killed on her 61st birthday in an accident while working cattle on leased land in Grand Teton National Park near the Mead Ranch in Spring Gulch. She was thrown by her horse, which then collapsed upon her. She was born and died on a Friday.[4][8]

In addition to Governor Matt Mead, who is also a former U.S. attorney in Cheyenne, Mead's other children are Bradford Scott "Brad" Mead (born July 24, 1957) and Muffy Mead-Ferro, an author in Salt Lake City, Utah. Brad Mead and his wife, Katherine L. "Kate" Mead (also born 1957), are attorneys in Jackson. Kate Mead, a Vermont native who came to Wyoming on a skiing scholarship, was the Republican nominee in 2006 for the District 16 seat in the Wyoming House of Representatives.[5] Both Bradford Mead and Clifford Hansen recorded interviews to be used as a part of the new Jackson Hole Historical Society Museum, to be unveiled in downtown Jackson.

Mead's cremated remains lie, along with those of her parents, in a crypt in the St. John's Episcopal Church Mausoleum in Jackson.

Her children established the dual Mary Mead Memorial Scholarship and Graduate Fellowship for Women in Agriculture at the University of Wyoming. These awards honor her lifetime commitment to the Wyoming livestock industry.[9]

The Mead children also released this eulogy to their mother:

One of Jackson's pre-eminent ranchers was "a woman born to the land that she knew every inch of -- every ditch, every bog, every dry patch, every likely place to look for an errant bunch of cows during spring gathering.

She was a diligent midwife to nearly one thousand mother cows every spring, she kept many an all-night vigil with a cow in difficulty or bottle-feeding a shivering newborn as she talked to it and rubbed it with a blanket on her kitchen floor.[4]


  1. ^ "Obituary of Clifford P. Hansen". Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, October 24, 2009. Retrieved October 24, 2009. 
  2. ^ Wyoming Secretary of State, Gubernatorial election returns, November 6, 1990
  3. ^ "Martha Hansen, Gov. Mead's grandmother, dies". Wyoming Tribune Eagle, September 29, 2011. Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "Mary Mead" (PDF). Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "Wyoming general election returns, November 7, 2006" (PDF). Retrieved October 28, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Mead Ranch on the Block". Jackson Hole News, Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Retrieved October 28, 2009. 
  7. ^ "Jack Clinton, "Grand Teton rancher gives up grazing lease"". High Country News, September 24, 2001. Retrieved October 28, 2009. 
  8. ^ "Ben Cannon, "Mead launches campaign for Gov.", November 18, 2009". Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Scholarships at the University of Wyoming". Retrieved October 31, 2012. 
Secondary source
Party political offices
Preceded by
Pete Simpson
Republican nominee for Governor of Wyoming
Succeeded by
Jim Geringer