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Former State Rep. Frank Philp died Sunday at 67

Mar 10, 2015 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The Lysite-area rancher represented Fremont County in the Wyoming Legislature for nine terms.

Fremont County legislators and residents are mourning the loss this week of Frank Philp.

The former Wyoming legislator, 67, died Sunday at SageWest Health Care at Riverton. He had been battling an illness since his retirement from his post representing Wyoming House District 34 in 2010.

He lived in the Lysite area and more recently in Thermopolis.

Philp was first elected to the spot in 1992, the same year State Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, joined the Wyoming Legislature.

"We were in the same class," Case said Tuesday. "Frank became a really good friend. (He) was so smart, and he really cared about people."

Case couldn't recall a time when Philp lost his temper during a debate. Instead, Case said, the Lysite-area sheep rancher made his points gently.

"He had a quiet demeanor," Case said, adding, "I loved his laugh. I think he had the greatest laugh."

State Rep. David Miller, R-Riverton, said Philp maintained his positive attitude even while battling his illness. When Miller visited Philp in at a hospital in Denver, he said Philp was talkative and seemed to be "having a good time."

"He was always a gentleman," Miller said. "Frank was a great Fremont County native, a great legislator and a good friend. We're going to miss him severely."

Miller and other legislators spoke about Philp's success as appropriations chairman. They believe he would have become speaker of the house if he hadn't resigned for health reasons.

"He knew that the people needed someone that was healthy," former representative Patrick Goggles said. "He was a very upstanding, honorable individual who represented his district with the best of intentions and did the peoples' work."

Goggles agreed with Case's characterization of Philp, whom Goggles described as a "very laid back" person who "didn't get real excited" over legislative disagreements.

"He kept it in perspective," Goggles said.

Philp would have called it "good old sheep man common sense" according to Lander Mayor Del McOmie, who also served with Philp in the Wyoming Legislature.

"He sat right next to me (for) a number of years," McOmie recalled. "Frank was always very calm and level-headed."

McOmie used the word "deliberate" when describing Philp, whose family has been active in the area for generations. Philp's father, who died last year, was a longtime county commissioner and sheep rancher from Lysite.

Lois Herbst, another area rancher for many years, called the Philps one of Fremont County's "centennial" families. She remembered that Philp attended middle school at the one-room school house in Lysite, and his teacher made a production out of his graduation, inviting the school band from Shoshoni to celebrate the occasion.

"My memories of Frank go far beyond politics," said Herbst, who ran against Philp in 1992. "I admired him as a rancher, a fellow historian and just a person. (He was) a man with a great sense of humor."

State Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, was a member of the Shoshoni band that played at Philp's eighth-grade graduation. He also worked with Philp in the Wyoming Legislature.

"He was a close friend of mine," Bebout said. "We're a better place for him having been here, and we're going to miss him."

He said Philp never complained about the health problems he faced.

"We were always talking, visiting, keeping in touch," Bebout said. "He was going through --quite frankly --hell with all the treatment, but he always was smiling and had a great attitude."

Case said Philp was brave in the face of illness.

"I can't think of anything more Wyoming than Frank Philp," he said.

When she took his spot representing House District 34, State Rep. Rita Campbell, R-Shoshoni, said she felt the respect that fellow representatives had for Philp.

"He truly was missed," she said. "Not only was he a great legislator, he was a tremendous good friend and a very loyal neighbor. ... I hope I can do half as good a job as he did."

A rosary is at7 p.m. Thursday at Davis Funeral Home in Riverton. Funeral services are at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Margaret's Catholic Church in Riverton. Graveside services are at 10 a.m. Saturday at Riverside Cemetery in Thermopolis.

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