Wyomingites in the News

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Bill Sniffin
Bill Sniffin

For a state with such small population, people with strong Wyoming ties have been in the news lately:

• After the smoke cleared, one journalist was singled out at doing the very best work in covering the Boston Marathon bombings.

It was Wyoming native Pete Williams, who is the primary judicial reporter for NBC News.  Pete was the one national reporter “who got it right,” it has been reported repeatedly.

This was the biggest terrorist disaster to hit the USA since the total change in the internet social network landscape, where everyone in the country is literally a reporter. Williams somehow managed to keep the story accurate while just about everyone else went live with wildly inaccurate reports that often had a basis in social networks such as Twitter.

The Huffington Post reported:  

“NBC's Pete Williams has emerged as the reporter out in front of all the rest during the coverage of the Boston bombing.

Williams famously stuck to his guns when rival reporters--most prominently CNN's John King--said on Wednesday that there had been an arrest in the case. He was proved correct.    

“Early Friday, as the suspects killed a police officer, stole a car and engaged in a deadly shootout, Williams broke news again and again. He was among the first to say a suspect had been killed; the first to report the men may have had overseas connections; the first to report they told the man whose car they stole they had carried out the bombing; and the first to report the men were brothers.”

Williams is a Casper native and former long-time anchor for KTWO-TV before heading to Washington, D. C. where he worked for then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney before landing his current post at NBC News.

• One of the region’s wealthiest and influential people died recently.  Earl Holding developed the Little America properties west of Green River and in Cheyenne. He owned vast stretches of Wyoming plus was the owner of the Sinclair Oil Company and Sun Valley Ski Resort.

Forbes listed him at the 155th wealthiest man in America with $2.6 billion.  He was 86. Gov. Matt Mead said:

“The passing of Earl Holding is a sad day for Wyoming. He and his wife, Carol, have lived the American dream. Their accomplishments, excelling in business, and giving back to the state and the country epitomize that story. Earl was an extraordinary philanthropist. His is a great American success story, because, for him, the two -- business achievement and giving back -- were inseparable.”

Cheyenne Mayor Rick Kaysen could not "imagine what Cheyenne might be like if we didn't have the Little America resort. The things that we don’t see are the guidance that he provided as a human being, as a businessperson and his relationships with many people in Cheyenne over the many decades. He treated people just like they were longtime friends. He leaves quite a legacy.”

• The man responsible for building Wyoming Catholic College in Lander is retiring. 

Fr. Bob Cook, 73, has been on a nine-year journey that started when former Wyoming Catholic Bishop David Ricken proposed the creation of a new four-year college in Wyoming.

The school held its third graduation ceremonies last weekend in Lander.

WCC Board Chairman Dave Kellogg heaped praise on Fr. Cook during the graduation ceremonies. Kellogg gave Fr. Cook credit for being a major force that got the college started and who has put the four-year on a solid footing.

Bishop Ricken, Fr. Cook and Dr. Robert Carlson, formerly of Casper, were the founders but Fr. Cook served as president of the college from its inception and has been the main fund raising force, which has kept the doors open.

My wife Nancy and I have had a front row seat to watch the college grow and flourish and certainly know first-hand what a wonderful and consistent job that has been done by Fr. Cook.

• Two recent cover stories in major national magazines had Wyoming connections.

Casper native U. S. Sen. Tom Coburn was featured in Time Magazine’s most influential list.  The author writing about him was none other than President Barack Obama.

Sports Illustrated’s cover story about Jason Collins being the first major sport athlete to declare being gay included the fact that he changed his jersey number to 98 to honor a Wyoming man. Matthew Shepard of Casper was killed south of Laramie in 1998 in what was determined to be a hate crime because Shepherd was gay.



Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at www.billsniffin.com.  He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at www.wyomingwonders.com.

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