Jerry W. Housel


(May 14, 2001)

Long-time Cody resident and attorney Jerry W. Housel died peacefully on Monday, May 14 in Sun City, Ariz.

Memorial services will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday, June 1 at his Cody residence at 1500 11th Street. .

Mr. Housel was born Aug. 9, 1912, in Cripple Creek, Colo. He was raised in Cripple Creek and Rawlins and graduated from Rawlins High School in 1930.

He earned scholarships to the University of Wyoming where he earned a B.A. degree in 1934 and a J.D. degree in 1936, graduating with honors. He later received a Ph.D. degree in international affairs from American University in Washington, D.C.

At the University of Wyoming, he was editor of the student newspaper and twice received the Phi Beta Kappa award for highest class grades. He was also twice honored as distinguished student in political science.

Following law school, he entered law practice with the firm of Arnold and Arnold in Laramie. Shortly thereafter he went to Washington, D.C. where he worked for Wyoming Sen. H.H. Schwartz and was appointed attorney for the Federal Trade Commission. At the beginning of World War II, he was transferred to the War Relocation Authority where he worked under Milton Eisenhower, brother of Gen. and President Eisenhower. He was later named regional WRA attorney in Denver, Colo. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946 on the staff of the Chief of Naval Air Training in Pensacola, Fla.

Following WW II, he formed a law partnership in Cody with Ernest J. Goppert, Sr. He married Mary Elaine Bever in Cody in 1946.

In the 1950s, he purchased the Phelps Ranch Company at Meeteetse, later named the Bar TL Ranch, which he operated successfully for many years as a cattle and sheep ranch.

He served as chairman and owner of the Cody Trading Co. for 12 years. In 1959, he organized the First State Finance Co. of Cody and later the First State Bank of Cody. He also served as director of First Wyoming Bank-Cody and Wybanco. At the time of his death, he was a director of a bank in Greeley, Colo.

For over 60 years, Mr. Housel was active in the Wyoming State Bar and served as its president in 1964. He was also admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. He was a director of the American Judicature Society and served 15 years in the American Bar Association House of Delegates. For 12 years, he served on the Wyoming Board of Law Examiners, and from 1991 through 1995, he served on the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association.

Mr. Housel was also a member of the ABA Central and Eastern Europe Law Initiative in which he actively promoted legal scholarship and judicial improvement in foreign nations. He traveled to Moscow, Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand to assist in modernizing civil and criminal codes and procedures. In 1995, he served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the Marshall Islands.

In 1995, Mr. Housel donated his beloved Bar TL Ranch to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center and the University of Wyoming College of Law. The BBHC used its portion of the gift to establish the Jerry W. Housel Chair of the McCracken Research Library, and the UW College of Law used its share to endow the Jerry W. Housel-Carl F. Arnold Distinguished Chair in Law.

Mr. Housel was a long-time member of the Episcopal Church and was a life member of many civic organizations, including the Cody Elks, the Cody Eagles, the American Legion and the Masonic Lodge of Cripple Creek. He also served on the Cody City Council and was president of the Cody Club in 1962.

He had been a director of the BBHC since 1994. In 1997, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from UW. In 1999, he was honored as a Distinguished Alum of the University of Wyoming, and he was also inducted into the Order of the Coif, a distinguished law fraternity. Mr. Housel is survived by Mary Elaine Housel; his son, James Robert Housel and wife Debbie of Cody, daughter Jerry Laine Hogg of Cody, son John Ora Housel and wife Linda of Cody and son Peter Elliott Housel and wife Susan of Sedona, Ariz.; a brother, James, of Meadow Vista, Calif.; a sister, Louise Lyman of Irving, Texas; and six grandchildren.

The family requests that memorials be made to Spirit Mountain Hospice, 707 Sheridan Ave., Cody, or the Cody Recreation Center Foundation, P.O. Box 1531, Cody.