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November 08, 2012 8:35 am

EDITORIAL: Saying goodbye to Peg Shreve

Written by Dave Bonner

Wyoming’s entire congressional delegation was in attendance at memorial services for Peggy June Adams Shreve in Cody Friday, a telling tribute to a pioneer legislator in Park County. Peg Shreve died Oct. 27, 2012, in Cody at the age of 85.

In 1978, she was the first and only woman elected to the Legislature in Park County history, and lest you suspect it was something of a fluke, put that thought to rest. Over the span of 20 years, she faced voters 10 times, and 10 times she was elected to the State House of Representatives in Cheyenne.

She was a true representative of Park County. It’s notable that for the first seven times Peg Shreve won election to the House, she ran in countywide contests. And more often than not, she was the top vote getter of the three representatives elected from the county as a whole. Legislative districts were set up in 1992, and Peg won three terms as the representative in Cody’s House District 24 before she retired from a legislative career.

So it was fitting that U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis — themselves all former Wyoming state legislators — were at the service where Peg Shreve was remembered for her political, and personal, achievements. They smiled, with others, at the memory of Peg as a determined and convincing legislator who had a knack for getting her way. She once said her skills of persuasion were honed in a home with three brothers where she learned she “could get what she wanted with honey.”

It was said of Peg: even in disagreement, she wouldn’t get mad at you. She’d just let you know she was disappointed by the position you’d taken.

Peg Shreve and Cynthia Lummis were each elected to the House for the first time in 1978 and served 14 years together before Lummis ran for and was elected to the State Senate. Mike Enzi and Peg also served in the House together before Enzi moved on to the State Senate. John Barrasso didn’t become a state senator from Natrona County until after Peg had retired.

But they all learned lessons in the Wyoming State Legislature that they carry with them to service in Washington, D.C. They share the belief, as did Peg, that Wyoming does things the right way. Pay as you go. No debt. And legislation dealing with only one subject at a time — no add-ons or attachments of an entirely different subject that sneak through on a bill as riders. Congress could take note.

Peg Shreve was a do-er all her life. She told a woman’s forum in Powell in 1994 that she joined every activity she could as a little girl growing up in West Virginia — even the school football team which was short on players. She learned by participating on the way to becoming a school teacher in a one-room school.

Her teacher’s background served her and the state well in the Legislature as she strongly advocated for education in Wyoming. She also was a champion for travel and tourism, serving 10 years as chairman of the Travel, Recreation and Wildlife Committee in the House. A humorous, but important, legacy to her promotion of travel and tourism is the namesake of “Peg’s Potties” credited to her push for creation of highway rest stops in the state.

Twenty years in the Legislature is a remarkable record of service, in which she rose to the leadership position as Speaker Pro Temp of the House during her last four years in Cheyenne. She blazed history as the first woman legislator in this county.

She also was on the forefront of legislative history for what she didn’t do. Years later, she told the story of her first few years in the Legislature when the men were still arguing and deciding legislation in the lounge at the Hitching Post, a place she didn’t go. That process began to change when more women were elected to serve in the Legislature, she observed wryly.

No doubt helped along by at least one woman who let it be known she was disappointed by the actions of some of her male colleagues.

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