Thyra Thomson

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Thyra Thomson
Wyoming Secretary of State
In office
Preceded by Jack R. Gage (1959–1963)
Succeeded by Kathy Karpan (1987–1995)
Personal details
Born Thyra Godfrey
(1916-07-16)July 16, 1916
Florence, Fremont County
Colorado, USA
Died June 11, 2013(2013-06-11) (aged 96)
Cheyenne, Wyoming
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Edwin Keith Thomson
Residence Cheyenne, Wyoming
Alma mater University of Wyoming
Occupation Public official
Religion Presbyterian

Thyra Godfrey Thomson (July 30, 1916 – June 11, 2013) was an American politician from the U.S. state of Wyoming, who served as a Republican as the Wyoming Secretary of State from 1963 to 1987.


Born in Florence, Colorado, Thomson graduated cum laude in 1939 from University of Wyoming in Laramie. While there she met, and in 1939 married University of Wyoming law student Edwin Keith Thomson of Newcastle in Weston County in northeastern Wyoming, who subsequently served in the United States House of Representatives from Wyoming from 1955 until his death in 1960, when he was U.S. senator-elect.

Political career[edit]

Elected in 1963, Thomson served as Secretary of State of Wyoming for six four-year terms. She was the first woman to be elected to that position in Wyoming. Because Wyoming has no lieutenant governor Thomson as secretary of state served as acting governor on numerous occasions when Governors Clifford P. Hansen, Stanley K. Hathaway, and Ed Herschler were out of state.[1]

Thomson argued for equal pay for women and access to day care as large numbers of women began to enter the job market during the 1970s.[2] In 1974, in line with her work involving regulation of the sale of new issues of securities, she was elected president of the North American Securities Administrators Association, which represents all fifty states, Canada, and Mexico. Thomson also served in a number of other international groups and associations.[3]

Thomson said that she never ran for public office higher than that of secretary of state because she liked the position very much and wanted to devote as much available time as she could being a single parent to the three Thomson sons.[2]

Later life and death[edit]

After retiring in 1987, she sat on the boards of the Cheyenne Symphony, of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, and of the University of Wyoming.[4]

Thompson died in the capital city of Cheyenne on June 11, 2013, at the age of 96.[3][4] Upon her death, Wyoming Secretary of State Max Maxfield issued the following statement: “Wyoming has lost a legendary Wyoming public servant and a vanguard of her time with the passing of Thyra Thomson. Her contributions to her beloved State are immeasurable and significant in the legacy she leaves us all. During her historic twenty four years, as Wyoming’s Secretary of State, she touched the lives of citizens throughout the State. Through her dedicated service and statesmanship, Thyra Thomson earned a well-deserved and iconic place in Wyoming’s history.”[4]

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead said, similarly: “Thyra is one of the most highly regarded political figures in Wyoming’s history, for her many accomplishments and also for the length of her tenure in office. I have known her since childhood as a wonderful person with an immense amount of character and an abiding love for Wyoming.... [The] entire State of Wyoming will miss her.”[4]

In the services held on June 21, 2013, at the First Presbyterian Church of Cheyenne, the Reverend Diana Hartman likened Thomson to Abigail from the Book of 1 Samuel in the Old Testament. Abigail sought to aid David after he was rebuked by Nabal, the then husband of Abigail. "Of all the famous women in the Old Testament, Abigail might be called the wisest. And while their stories and circumstances are vastly different, Thyra and Abigail demonstrated very similar characteristics as godly women," said Hartman.[5]

Pete Simpson, a retired University of Wyoming historian and administrator and the Republican gubernatorial nominee in 1986, the first year that Thomson no longer appeared on a Wyoming ballot, called Thomson "the queen of Wyoming ... sort of a cross between a Broadway star and a Wyoming cowgirl." Simpson said that he first met Thomson in 1954, when he was twenty-three and his father, Milward L. Simpson, was running for governor. He further described Thomson with two words that he said he could not then easily define: "chutzpah", or raw courage, and "pizzazz" or charisma.[5]

Lynne Cheney, a long-time Thomson friend, recalled her great grace, spirit, vigor, and dancing ability: "Old age has its rough patches too, but I never heard Thyra complain. Even when she was in a wheelchair, her hair was done, her makeup was perfect."[5]

Thomson is interred with her husband at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.


  1. ^ Mark Junge, "The Wind is My Witness: A Wyoming Album", Roberts Rinehart, 1997.
  2. ^ a b "James Chilton, "Longtime secretary of state Thomson dies at 96", June 13, 2013". Retrieved June 24, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b John Barron, "Former Sec. of State Thyra Thomson dies," Billings Gazette (Wyoming edition), June 12, 2013
  4. ^ a b c d Obituary
  5. ^ a b c "James Chilton, "Thomson celebrated at service", June 22, 2013". Retrieved July 2, 2013.