Milward Simpson

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Milward Simpson
United States Senator
from Wyoming
In office
November 6, 1962 – January 3, 1967
Preceded byJohn J. Hickey
Succeeded byClifford Hansen
23rd Governor of Wyoming
In office
January 3, 1955 – January 5, 1959
Preceded byClifford Joy Rogers
Succeeded byJohn J. Hickey
Member of the Wyoming House of Representatives
In office
Personal details
Milward Lee Simpson

(1897-11-12)November 12, 1897
Jackson, Wyoming, U.S.
DiedJune 11, 1993(1993-06-11) (aged 95)
Cody, Wyoming, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
SpouseLorna Kooi Simpson
ChildrenPete Simpson
Alan K. Simpson
Alma materUniversity of Wyoming
Harvard Law School
ProfessionAttorney; Businessman
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Army
Battles/warsWorld War I

Milward Lee Simpson (November 12, 1897 – June 11, 1993) was an American politician who served as a U.S. Senator and as the 23rd Governor of Wyoming, the first born in the state. In 1985, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Simpson as governor.

Simpson was born in Jackson, Teton County, Wyoming, the son of Margaret Louise Burnett (maiden; 1874–1974) and W.L. "Billy" Simpson ( William Lee Simpson; 1868–1940).[2] He attended public schools in Meeteetse and Cody. He graduated from Cody High School in 1916.[3] In June 1917, at age 19, Simpson graduated from the Tome School for Boys in Port Deposit, Maryland.[4] As one of fifteen graduates, he was awarded Best All-Round Athlete for his outstanding performance on the school's football, basketball, and baseball teams. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who at the time was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, was the Commencement Speaker.[5]

During World War I, Simpson served as a second lieutenant in the infantry, United States Army.[2]

Higher education[edit]

After the war, he attended the University of Wyoming, and in 1921, earned an AB degree.[4] While a student at UW, he was both an athlete and a member of the university's debate team. Simpson was in the same class as Edward Deming (1900–1993),[6][7] credited for, among other things, launching the Total Quality Management movement. He was also in the same fraternity, Alpha Tau Omega, as Glenn Parker (1898–1989),[6][7] whom he appointed to the Wyoming Supreme Court when he became Governor in 1955.

From 1921 to 1923 and from 1924 to 1925, he attended Harvard Law School, but did not graduate.[8]


In 1924, while studying at Harvard, Simpson took over his father's law practice.[2] He was admitted to the Wyoming Bar Association in 1926[9] and practiced law in Cody until 1955 when he became governor of Wyoming.

Wyoming government and U.S. government[edit]

Simpson served as a [Republican] member of the Wyoming House of Representatives for one two-year term, from 1926 to 1927. He was a member of the board of trustees of the University of Wyoming in 1939 and president of the board from 1943 to 1954. He was a member of the National Association of Governing Boards of State Universities and Allied Institutions and served as president of the body from 1952 to 1953.

Milward Simpson ran for the U.S. Senate against Joseph C. O'Mahoney in 1940, but was defeated 58.7% to 41.3%. Simpson was narrowly elected governor in November 1954. He defeated the Democrat William Jack, 56,275 (50.5 percent) to 55,163 (49.5 percent). Simpson was unseated after a single term in 1958, a heavily Democratic year nationally, after a single term in office by John J. Hickey of Rawlins in Carbon County, 55,070 (48.9 percent) to 52,488 (46.6 percent). He resumed his law practice in 1959.

Simpson won a special election on November 6, 1962, to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Republican Senator-elect Edwin Keith Thomson in the term ending January 3, 1967;[10] he was not a candidate for Senate reelection in 1966 but was succeeded by outgoing Governor Clifford Hansen of Jackson. Simpson lived in Cody until his death in 1993 at the age of 95.

Voting record and policies[edit]

As governor, Simpson advocated for, and signed into law the Wyoming Civil Rights Act of 1957, a measure aimed at abolishing racial segregation in the state.[11][12] However, as a U.S. Senator, Simpson was one of six Republicans – the others being Barry Goldwater of Arizona, Norris Cotton of New Hampshire, Bourke B. Hickenlooper of Iowa, Edwin Mechem of New Mexico, and John Tower of Texas – who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[13] Simpson voted in favor of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[14]


Simpson played football, basketball, and baseball for the University of Wyoming in 1917, 1919–1920, and 1920–1921.[15] He has been chronicled as the first to simultaneously serve as Captain of three intercollegiate sports at the University.[16][17] In 1996, Simpson was inducted into the University of Wyoming Athletics Hall of Fame.[15]

Around 1921 and 1924, Simpson played semi-professional baseball in Red Lodge, Montana, and Cody.[18] One of his teammates was the subsequent Lieutenant Governor and Education Superintendent Bill Dodd of Louisiana. They became close friends.

Sports Illustrated ranks Simpson, as a multisport star, Wyoming's 28th Greatest Sports Figure of the 20th Century.[19]


Simpson – on June 29, 1929, in Sheridan – married Lorna Helen Kooi (maiden; 1900–1995). They had two sons, both of whom have the middle name "Kooi." The younger son, Alan K. Simpson, served in the Wyoming House from Park County from 1965 to 1977 and in the United States Senate as a Republican from 1979 to 1997. Alan Simpson was the Senate Republican Whip during the early 1990s. An older son, Peter K. Simpson, is a retired historian and administrator at the University of Wyoming, who served in the state House from 1981 to 1984 from Sheridan County, where he was then residing while serving as an administrator at Sheridan College. Milward Simpson's grandson (by way of Alan Simpson), Colin M. Simpson, is a former member of the Wyoming House from Cody, who lost a Republican primary for governor in 2010 to Matt Mead of Jackson, a grandson of Clifford Hansen.

Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Wyoming
(Class 1)

Succeeded by
Harry B. Henderson
Preceded by Republican nominee for Governor of Wyoming
1954, 1958
Succeeded by
Preceded by Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Wyoming
(Class 2)

Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Wyoming
January 3, 1955 – January 5, 1959
Succeeded by
U.S. Senate
Preceded by U.S. senator (Class 2) from Wyoming
November 7, 1962 – January 3, 1967
Served alongside: Gale W. McGee
Succeeded by
Honorary titles
Preceded by Oldest living U.S. senator
September 23, 1992 – June 10, 1993
Succeeded by




  • Biographical Directory of the United States Congress → "Simpson, Milward Lee". Government Publishing Office. (GPO search link) icon of an open green padlock LCCN 2004-114224 (2005); ISBN 0-1607-3176-3 (2005).
    1. 1774–1989: Via HathiTrust. p. 1815. icon of an open green padlock
    2. 1774–2005: Pdf via GPO website (PDF). p. 1915. icon of an open green padlock
    3. 1774–2005: Via Google Books (limited preview). p. 1915.
    1. Via Google (limited Preview).
    1. Transcript, from the Vertical Files of the Paw Paw Museum. Port Deposit, Maryland. Archived from the original on November 1, 2004 – via Wayback Machine.
  • Hathorn, Billy Burton, PhD (born 1948) (December 2011). "Book Review → Dude Ranching in Yellowstone Country: Larry Larom and Valley Ranch, 1915–1969. By W. Hudson Kensel". South Dakota History: Historic Preservation Issue. 41 (4): 458–460. ISSN 0361-8676 (publication); OCLC 5773986885 (article).
Book reviewed:
    1. Via Internet Archive. icon of an open green padlock
    2. Re-Print via Wyoming Almanac blog. icon of an open green padlock
    1. Browse digitized papers.
    1. "Juniors" → "Milward Simpson".
    2. "Juniors" → "Edward Deming".
    3. "Alpha Tau Omega" → "Glenn Parker".
    1. "Seniors" → "Milward Simpson".
    2. "Seniors" → "Edward Deming".
    3. "Juniors" → "S. Glenn Parker".

General references[edit]

  • Congressional Record. "Proceedings and Debates of the 89th Congress." 2nd Session → Tributes to Milward L. Simpson of Wyoming. Vol. 112. Part 21. October 20, 1966, to October 22, 1966. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. 1966. Via Internet Archive (Kahle/Austin Foundation) icon of an open green padlock OCLC 1268148100.
    1. Sen. Jacob Javits. "Tributes to Leverett Saltonstall and Milward Simpson". pp. 27894–27895.
    2. Sen. Everett Dirksen. "Senator Milward L. Simpson". p. 27895.
    3. Sen. Ralph Yarborough. "Milward Simpson, Senator, Governor, Educator, Rancher, Westerner, American". pp. 27895–27896.
    4. Sen. Thomas J. Dodd. "Tribute to Senators Donald Russell and Milward Simpson". pp. 28013–28014.
    5. Sen. Paul Fannin. "Legislative Achievements of Senator Simpson". pp. 28432–28433.
    6. Sen. Daniel Inouye. "Senator Milward L. Simpson". p. 28436.
    7. Sen. James B. Pearson. "Retirement of Senator Leverett Saltonstall and Senator Milward Simpson". p. 29005.
    8. Sen. Henry M. Jackson. "Honorable Milward L. Simpson, of Wyoming". p. 29063.
    9. Sen. William Proxmire (1905–2005). "Senator Milward Simpson, of Wyoming". p. 29111.
    1. Chapter 29: "Governors of the States" → "Wyoming". p. 1413.
    2. Chapter 30: "Gubernatorial General Election Returns" → "Wyoming". p. 1476.

External links[edit]