UPDATE: As reported earlier, longtime state Republican Sen. John Schiffer, of Kaycee, has died. He died Thursday morning at his home following a brief illness. He was 68 years old.
Both Wyoming State Senator Bruce Burns and the state's Treasurer Mark Gordon were deeply saddened by the death of their long-time friend. Burns, who's been a state legislator two years shy of Schiffer's 22 years said Schiffer was always there to add insight on issues.
Burns said the loss of this long-time legislator will be felt throughout the state.
Burns said Schiffer was most recently chairman of the judiciary committee.
Gordon not only worked with Schiffer at the state level, but alongside him at their ranch.
Knowing him so personally we asked Gordon what issues were near and dear to his friend's heart.
Schiffer has represented District 22 in Johnson and Sheridan counties since 1993. He was president of the Senate in 2007-08 and Senate Majority Floor Leader in 2006-07. A rancher by trade, Schiffer was born in Chadron, Nebraska. He and his wife, Nancy, had two children. Funeral arrangements are pending.
We will continue to air stories of legislators and friends sharing memories of their long-time friend and legislator, like those posted below.
Representative Madden Remembers Senator Schiffer
By Aaron Palmer
State Representative for House District 40, Mike Madden of Buffalo, was shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of State Senator John Schiffer Thursday morning, saying the news was particularly hard on him because Schiffer taught him everything he needed to know as a legislator.
Madden said Schiffer always supported him in the elections, including the very first one when Schiffer didn't know him very well. Madden said it was a heart-felt gesture for Schiffer to put that much confidence in him when he had met him only a few times. Madden said he foresees a difficult time ahead trying to finding someone to follow Schiffer in state government.
Madden gave an example of one of Schiffer's contributions to Wyoming.
That alone would be a lasting legacy, he said, but Schiffer was also instrumental in helping those in uniform, who Madden said held a special place with Schiffer. He said Schiffer's constant vigilance for veterans and those in the military will be with this state forever.
Madden said: “We, as a state, have a lot to be grateful for when it comes to Senator Schiffer's accomplishments. State government will be forever changed."
Schiffer was a Republican State Senator from Kaycee for more than two decades.
Coleman Describes Schiffer as 'Amazing'
by Pat Blair
State Rep. Kathy Coleman of Sheridan said she knew Senator John Schiffer since she was old enough to vote. The senator died this morning at his home in Kaycee. Rep. Coleman shared her thoughts and feelings on her colleague in the Wyoming legislature.
Patton Says Schiffer Will be Missed
by Pat Blair
Wyoming Rep. John Patton described Sen. John Schiffer as a consummate rancher who loved his ranch and loved the land. But the Sheridan representative added, the senator's interests ran much deeper and were more varied.
Asked what Wyoming's legislature will be like without Sen. Schiffer, Patton said the legislature will change.
The Republican representative added that Schiffer never batted an eye with dealing with the state audit and appropriations. He said the senator had a keen interest in those areas.
Wyoming has lost one of its greatest leaders with the passing of Senator John Schiffer.John has been a voice of reason and an anchor in the Wyoming Legislature for many years.
Personally, I am extremely saddened by the loss of someone who has been a strong mentor for me. I have worked closely with John for 12 years. Constantly, he has offered advice and leadership, and I have learned and grown with his guidance.
I have great appreciation for John’s efforts and accomplishments for Wyoming. He exhibited great intelligence and understanding of people’s needs, and applied himself, through hard work to get things done for our state and our citizens.
When I served as chair of the Council of State Governments for the western states in 2012, we awarded the Distinguished Leadership Award to Senator Schiffer. Legislators throughout the western United States recognized that he had been a highly effective voice in promoting responsible regional energy development and transmission. His work in this arena served to benefit Wyoming and surrounding states, as well as the workers and consumers relying on local energy sources.
As I reflect back on his years of service, I remember his enthusiastic support for juvenile programs and the major role he assumed in budget planning, wildlife and hunting issues, judicial matters and health care programs in our state.
I know that I will miss John’s friendship and leadership in many ways. I believe that all of us in Wyoming have lost one of our greatest assets. John did make a difference in the lives of Wyoming citizens.
John had the highest regard for his wife, Nancy. She inspired him to run for the Senate and continued to encourage him as he did the people’s work over the last two decades. We should all be thinking of Nancy and the rest of John’s family at this time as they have suffered a great personal loss.
Governor Mead Says Statesman Will Be Missed
Governor Matt Mead issued a statement Thursday, following the announcement of the death of State Senator John Schiffer of Kaycee.
He said the long-time senator “had true common sense and such a love of Wyoming.” The governor described Schiffer as a cowboy, statesman and an advocate for making the state a better place.
The governor said he just saw the senator a few weeks ago in Buffalo at a veterans' welcome home event. He said he appreciated the senators words and always appreciated his deep support for his fellow veterans. The governor said Schiffer's left a legacy that will benefit Wyoming for generations to come and the people of the state will miss him.
Governor Mead has ordered that the State of Wyoming flag be lowered to half-staff at the Capitol and in Johnson and Sheridan Counties from sunrise to sunset until the day of interment to honor Senator Schiffer who served in the Senate for more than two decades.
CSG WEST DIRECTOR
LETTER TO OFFICERS AND PAST CHAIRS
I wanted to alert you that Wyoming State Senator John Schiffer passed away this morning (Thursday). Senator Schiffer was a strong advocate and supporter of Council of State Governments West (CSG West) and served our organization in several roles, most recently as chair of our Energy and Public Lands Committee.
He served the Wyoming Senate and his constituents with distinction. He was an ardent regionalist, who cared about the role of legislatures and the importance they have in our representative democracy. Moreover, he was a wonderful human being who genuinely cared about others, served as a mentor to his colleagues and was the consummate leader who was always ready to solve issues.
In 2012, he was the recipient of the Betty Fahrenkamp Award – our recognition for regional leadership. While I had the opportunity to work with him prior to that time, I got a chance to interact with him more, and most recently, in his role as chair of our Energy and Public Lands Committee. I learned a lot from Senator Schiffer and I always appreciated his leadership style that was inclusive, transparent and in the interest of the organization.
I know all of you, if not many of you, had the honor to work with him over the years. He will be deeply missed and our prayers are with his wife Nancy and family. Certainly, CSG West will find a way to honor him for his service to Wyoming and our organization.
The Council of State Governments West (CSG West)