From the pages of
Pinedale Roundup
Volume 104, Number 23 - June 7, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Thomas praised by local leaders

by Jennie Oemig

Sen. Craig Thomas passed away Monday evening at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where he had been receiving chemotherapy treatment, after battling cancer since his re-election in November, according to a statement issued by his family. He was 74. Sublette County State Representative Monte Olsen had worked with Thomas in the past and also knew him on a personal level.

“The state of Wyoming has lost what I would consider a statesman,” Olsen said. “He would do what was best for the people.” Thomas was known especially for his commitment to the protection of natural resources and his opposition to energy development in the forests and mountains of Wyoming.

Olsen said he’s not sure what the future holds for that particular matter, but thinks people will realize the importance of the issues Thomas was most concerned about. “I think his legacy there is going to carry on,” Olsen said. “People will have a little different awareness of what he was trying to accomplish.”

Sublette County Tourism Marketing Director Mindi Crabb, who said she had just met Thomas a couple weeks ago in Washington, D.C., agreed that the senator’s legacy needs to be preserved.

“I hope that whoever is named to succeed him will respect the things he was working on and continue those efforts,” she said. Prior to his death, Thomas had been working on legislation to deter oil and gas leasing in the Wyoming Range. Olsen said the issue still needs to be addressed, but is hopeful that someone else will step up to keep Thomas’ project alive.

“There’s a void that needs to be filled and probably will be filled,” he said. Crabb said the senator seemed to be very popular with his constituents and colleagues and was in the midst of creating a legacy for himself with the legislation he was working on, especially involving the minimization of energy development in the Wyoming Range. She called Thomas’ passing “a huge loss for the entire state.”

Olsen spoke of Thomas’ interest in preserving the Bridger-Teton National Forest, in addition to the Wyoming Range, saying that he’s not too sure what will happen with that in the future with the vacancy left by the senator. Acknowledging him as an advocate for not only park services and natural resources, but also for international trade, Olsen said Thomas was one of the first national leaders to take a prominent interest in those issues. Olsen said Thomas’ presence will surely be missed. “Obviously when someone dies, there’s a void,” he said. “No one can fill anyone else’s shoes.”

Crabb said Thomas’ death came as a shock to her since many of his colleagues commented that he was looking physically better in recent weeks.

“It’s just tragic for his family and for the state of Wyoming,” Crabb said. Olsen also expressed condolences for Thomas’ family during this difficult time. “My sympathies go out to Susan and the four children,” he said.

Lauren McKeever, assistant to the mayor, issued this statement on behalf of Pinedale. “The Town of Pinedale is marking the untimely loss of Wyoming’s Senator Craig Thomas. We were fortunate recently to have the help of his office, a real asset to our work as we wrestle with the enormous changes that are upon us. There was comfort knowing that our Senator Thomas was watching over us.

“We hope that his replacement will continue to assist the Town as we work to wisely address the challenges that we are now facing. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Senator Thomas’ family and staff.”

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