Sublette County native and Wyoming statesman Bill Budd, Jr., rode off into the sunset on Monday, Jan. 2. William H. (Bill) Budd Jr. was born July 27, 1930, in Kemmerer, Wyo., the oldest of three children of William H. and Thelma Vickrey Budd of Big Piney, Wyo. He was raised on the family ranch on North Piney Creek, where he worked on hay crews and the roundup. He became an outstanding horseman, both with saddle horses and teams. As he grew older, he won the bareback and saddle bronc events at numerous rodeos. He attended Big Piney High School, where he was an outstanding athlete, lettering in football, basketball and track, and graduating in 1948. He enrolled at the University of Wyoming, but found that studies were less to his liking than other endeavors, and returned to the ranch.
In 1950, Bill enlisted in the United States Air Force, alongside his high-school buddy Rod Bennett, and served four years during the Korean War, most of that time in Japan. He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant, and earned the Good Conduct Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, and National Defense Service Medal. Upon his discharge in 1954, he found education more agreeable and again enrolled at the University of Wyoming, where he met the love of his life, Carolyn Mockler. The pair was married in Dubois in 1955, and started their family the next year with the birth of their oldest child, Bob. Bill had an interrupted education, occasionally returning to Big Piney to work as a roughneck and earn enough to pay for the next year of school. A daughter, Cindy, was added in 1958. Bill graduated the same year and began a career in the insurance business in Riverton, where he ran his own insurance agency for 15 years. Bill and Carrie added three more children to the family, Jenny, Don and Mary. During that time, he was active in Republican politics and the local community. He served two terms on the Riverton City Council, and received the “Distinguished Service Award” for his community efforts. He was elected to the Wyoming Legislature in 1967, where he served three terms. His legislative service was marked by his appointment as the House Revenue Committee Chairman in only his second term.
In 1972, Budd was named the executive director of the Wyoming Mining Association, and the family moved to Casper and then Cheyenne. He was particularly effective in economic development activities and tax policy, as the mining industry in Wyoming became a major force in both arenas. He remained committed to his community, serving on numerous state and local boards, including a term as president of the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce. In 1986, he announced his intention to run for governor, and in a seven-candidate primary finished a close second. Despite the loss, he always called the campaign the highlight of his professional life – “We met the most incredible people, and made friends we have never forgotten.”
In 1987, he was named the director of Wyoming’s fledgling economic development office, and served in that capacity until his retirement. Before long, Bill and Carrie moved back to the family ranch in Big Piney, where they lived until shortly before his death. In those years, they devoted themselves to their community, their children and especially, their grandchildren. While his dedication to golf had to take a back seat, his lifelong passion for hunting, fishing, horses, playing poker and general mischief were fueled. He had his horses, and he had the love of his life, and he could look across the valley and see the mountains.
In his words, “I have had a great life. I’m ready to go.”
Bill Budd was the epitome of a statesman. He served others before self, and dedicated himself to family, community and his faith. He was a proud member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and was especially proud of his service as a lay minister in the Episcopal Church in four different communities. He lived every day with a twinkle in his eye and the other eye out for those in need.
Bill Budd was preceded in death by his father, Bill Sr., his mother, Thelma, and brother, Robert. He is survived by Carrie, his wife of 67 years; sister, Sally Friedrichs; children, Bob (Lynn), Cindy Noble (Paul), Jenny Aker (Gove), Don (Sherikay), and Mary Young (Randy); 13 grandchildren, William Aker, Shelby Aker Chang, Jillian Aker Ahlers, Joe Budd, Jake Budd, Maggie Budd York, Riley Budd, Sarah Budd, Emily Noble Haagenson, Kate Noble Thompson, Haley Young, Hannah Young Augustine, Delaney Young, and eight great-grandchildren, Avery Aker, Greylan Aker, Soren Chang, Rowan Ahlers, Rafe Ahlers, Brooke Thompson, Caroline Augustine and Jameson Augustine.
Services will be held Monday, Jan. 9, at 2 p.m., at the Faith Community Church, 9775 Ute Highway (HWY 66) in Longmont, Colo. A Celebration of Life will be held in Big Piney, Wyo., in the early summer. Remembrances may be made to Balfour Gift Fund, 1850 South Hover Road, Unit 201, Longmont, CO, 80501.