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 10, 1993(1993-06-10) (aged 95)
Cody, Wyoming, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Lorna 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 10, 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 (née Burnett) and William Lee Simpson.[2] He attended public schools in Meeteetse and Cody. He graduated from Cody High School in 1916. During World War I, Simpson served as a second lieutenant in the infantry, United States Army.[2] After the war, he attended and graduated from the University of Wyoming at Laramie in Albany County in 1921. While a student at UW, he was both an athlete and a member of the University's debate team. From 1921 to 1925, he attended Harvard Law School. In 1924 he took over his father's law practice.[2] He was admitted to the bar in 1926 and practiced law in Cody until 1955 when he became governor of Wyoming.

Simpson served as a member of the Wyoming House of Representatives 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; 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.

Along with Barry Goldwater of Arizona, Norris Cotton of New Hampshire, Bourke B. Hickenlooper of Iowa, Edwin Mechem of New Mexico, and John Tower of Texas, Simpson was one of six Republican senators who voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.[3] However, as governor he had signed into law Wyoming civil rights measure in 1957 which had abolished racial segregation in his state.[4] Simpson voted in favor of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[5]

Simpson and his wife, the former Lorna Kooi, 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, 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.

As a young man, Milward Simpson played professional baseball in Cody. One of his teammates was the subsequent Lieutenant Governor and Education Superintendent Bill Dodd of Louisiana. They became close friends.


  • U.S. Congress. Tributes to Milward L. Simpson of Wyoming. 89th Cong., 2nd sess., 1966. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1966.
  • Congressional Quarterly's Guide to U.S. Elections, Wyoming Governor's elections, 1954 and 1958
  • William J. "Bill" Dodd, Peapatch Politics: The Earl Long Era in Louisiana (Baton Rouge, Claitor's, 1991)
  • Robert Wakefield, Ph.D, Milward L. Simpson: The Fiery Petrel, Wakefield Publishing


  1. ^ "Hall of Great Westerners". National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Milward L. Simpson papers 1887-1995". Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Billy Hathorn, Review of Dude Ranching in the Yellowstone Country: Larry Larom and Valley Ranch, 1915-1969 by W. Hudson Kensel, South Dakota History, Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 458, 460
  5. ^ "TO PASS S. 1564, THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965".

External links[edit]

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

Succeeded by
Harry B. Henderson
Preceded by
Frank A. Barrett
Republican nominee for Governor of Wyoming
1954, 1958
Succeeded by
Clifford Hansen
Preceded by
Edwin Keith Thomson
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Wyoming
(Class 2)

Succeeded by
Clifford Hansen
Political offices
Preceded by
Clifford Joy Rogers
Governor of Wyoming
January 3, 1955 – January 5, 1959
Succeeded by
John J. Hickey
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
John J. Hickey
U.S. senator (Class 2) from Wyoming
November 7, 1962 – January 3, 1967
Served alongside: Gale W. McGee
Succeeded by
Clifford Hansen
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Frank Briggs
Oldest living U.S. Senator
September 23, 1992 – June 10, 1993
Succeeded by
Margaret Smith