Richard V. Thomas

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Richard Van Thomas
Wyoming Supreme Court
In office
December 1974 – February 2001
Personal details
Born(1932-10-11)October 11, 1932
Superior, Wyoming
DiedSeptember 4, 2010(2010-09-04) (aged 77)
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)(1) Missing
(2) Mary Elizabeth Lewallen Thomas (married at the time of his death)
ChildrenTara Thomas

Laura Thomas Bradley
Sidney Thomas Hardgrave
Richard R. Thomas

Three step-children
Alma materUniversity of Wyoming
New York University

Richard Van Thomas (October 11, 1932 – September 4, 2010) was a member of the Wyoming Supreme Court, having served from December 1974 until his retirement in February 2001. From 1985 to 1986, he was chief justice of the Wyoming high court.[1]


Thomas was born to John W. and Gertrude M. Thomas in Superior, a small town in Sweetwater County in southwestern Wyoming, and reared in Lingle in Goshen County in southeastern Wyoming. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Wyoming at Laramie. He procured a Master of Laws at New York University, with emphasis in tax law. On July 31, 1956, he was admitted to the Wyoming bar. For three years, he was Judge Advocate General at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne.[1]

From 1959 to 1969, he was then a partner in the firm Hirst, Applegate & Thomas until US President Richard M. Nixon appointed him as United States Attorney based in Cheyenne. In 1974, outgoing Governor Stanley K. Hathaway appointed Thomas to a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Thus began a career of more than 25 years on the court.[1]

Community affairs[edit]

Thomas was active in civic and community affairs, including the Masonic lodge, the Cheyenne Kiwanis International, and the United Way of Laramie County. He was a member of the Wyoming Bar Association and the Order of the Coif at the University of Wyoming School of Law. He was particularly active in the Boy Scouts of America, having served in leadership of the Long's Peak and national scout councils.[2]

Thomas was an avid reader of crime novels and a fly fisherman as well, often heading to Rawlins and the North Platte River on fishing trips.[3]

Death and legacy[edit]

Thomas and his second wife, the former Mary Elizabeth Lewallen, retired to Rio Rancho, New Mexico. He died in nearby Albuquerque at the age of seventy-seven. In addition to his wife, he was survived by three daughters, Tara Thomas of Overland Park, Kansas, Laura Bradley and husband Lawrence of Tacoma, Washington, and Sidney Hardgrave and husband Jason of Newburgh, Indiana; a son, Richard R. Thomas and wife Susan of Denver, Colorado; a sister, Verlee T. Wise of Escondido, California; three stepchildren, Matthew, Andrea, and Patrick, and eight grandchildren.[2]

A memorial service was held on September 18, 2010, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Cheyenne, where Thomas had been for many years an active lay eucharistic minister. Interment followed in Lakeview Cemetery in Cheyenne.[2]

Justice Michael Golden, who has served on the Wyoming high court since 1988, said that Thomas was "one of the more cerebral justices this court has ever seen," having applied his intellect to every kind of case that came before the body. Golden describes Thomas as "congenial and hardworking" and especially willing to assist younger members of the court.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "Press Release: Death of Richard V. Thomas" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 21, 2011. Retrieved September 13, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c "Richard V. Thomas (1932–2010)". Wyoming Tribune Eagle, September 12, 2010. Retrieved September 13, 2010.
  3. ^ a b "William Browning, Longtime justice Thomas dies, September 9, 2010". Billings Gazette, Billings, Montana. Retrieved September 13, 2010.