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Thomson to be buried at Arlington National

Jun 23, 2013 - By Ben Neary, The Associated Press

The former Wyoming Secretary of State had the longest tenure of any statewide elected official in Wyoming history.

CHEYENNE -- One speaker at former Wyoming Secretary of State Thyra Thomson's funeral in Cheyenne said she personified both chutzpah and pizazz.

Peter K. Simpson, member of one of Wyoming's storied political families, said at Friday's service that he loved Thomson, and called her the "queen of Wyoming."

Thomson served as secretary of state from 1963 to 1987, the longest tenure of any statewide elected official in Wyoming history. She died June 11 at age 96.

During her time in office, Thomson was a leader in insisting on equal rights and equal pay for women. Many remembered her also for her dedication and attention to fashion and style.

Simpson related that a reporter once asked Thomson how she liked a newspaper's political cartoon that suggested she had misused her office to influence a vote count.

He said she responded, "I was deeply resentful of that cartoon; it made me look flat-chested."

Thomson first ran for office after her husband, former U.S. Rep. Keith Thomson, died in 1960. A decorated hero in World War II, Keith Thomson died shortly after his election to the U.S. Senate but before he was sworn in to serve.

The funeral for Thyra Thomson drew Gov. Matt Mead and first lady Carol Mead, as well as all three members of Wyoming's congressional delegation and many other current and former politicians and judges.

Together with Thomson's family and friends, the spacious First Presbyterian Church of Cheyenne was nearly full.

Early in the service, The Rev. Diana Hartman led the audience in singing "Morning has Broken."

Backed by the throaty, thick tones of the church's pipe organ, the collective voices came through with a light, airy sound. The hymn matched well with the afternoon light that fired through the cobalt blue of the expansive stained glass windows.

At the front of the church, a photograph of Thomson stood framed with plants and flowers. She is survived by three sons, their families and many other relatives.

Hartman recalled that Thomson was interested in the church and outgoing even in her final years. "Whether she was meeting a president or a homeless person, she treated them with the same respect: looking them in the eye and listening," Hartman said.

Lynne Cheney, wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, said the Thomsons made quite a splash in Washington when they went there after his election to Congress.

"They were young and dynamic, and they knew everybody from Sen. John Kennedy to Speaker Sam Rayburn," Cheney said.

Cheney said Thyra Thomson will be buried next to her husband at Arlington National Cemetery. "But when I think of her being with him again after so many years, it's not in Arlington I see them," she said. "I imagine the two of them dancing up among the stars."

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