LINGLE – Thomas Lee Wilson was born Oct. 30, 1929, near Lingle, on the banks of the North Platte River. Tom graduated from Lingle High School a year early. He married Helen, graduated from the University of Wyoming in just 3 years, started a family, and began his long and varied career, which always had ties to Agriculture.
A real Cowboy, Tom and his dad entered the Cheyenne Frontier Days Wild Horse Race twice after WWII. A retired Fireman on the Union Pacific Railroad, Farmer and County Agent, Tom was a renaissance man, for he wrote poetry and taught Vocational Agriculture, FFA, 4H, Speech, Marketing, Butchering, Showmanship, Judging, Wrestling and Agronomy, Pioneered Head Start in Wyoming, and served as State Dairy Inspector for Governor Hansen. Whether he was teaching high school or serving Wyoming and farming at the same time, Tom and his daughter Marsha were leaders, winning State and National Grand Champion Columbia and Hampshire Sheep titles and many other awards and of ribbons.
As an Economist, Tom had a great career as a Foreign Service Officer for the United States Department of State in the Agency for International Development for 20 years. Tom was known on C Street and in many other world capitals. As a world rice production expert, Tom oversaw large foreign aid programs, creating ingenious agricultural programs globally with every major U.S. university, making life incredibly better and critically employing and feeding millions of people in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Nepal, Laos, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. He was the guest of kings. The Pathet Lao held Tom prisoner for three months. Tom repatriated one million war refugees around the world. Green Beret combat-trained, right-hand-man to ambassadors, Tom’s negotiations impressed many village headmen, rug sellers, horse traders, gem dealers, bandits, and shopkeepers.
Tom’s wife and family accompanied him dozens of times around the world, travelling to far corners, with nomads, soldiers, tribesmen, professors and friends, through jungles and high mountains, across deserts and oceans, by horse, camel, elephant, and many worn-out Jeeps and trucks, by air and sea. As a family they saw several of the Seven Wonders of the World, learning tolerance, humanitarianism, and a love of travel. Tom’s home overseas was a home away from home for many Peace Corps kids.
Tom passed away, our hero, peacefully doing his chores where the Wheel of Life turns at the family farm beside the North Platte River just west of Fort Laramie, not far from where he was born, where the Lord abides, tending his purebred flocks, a poet, with wild geese and a horned moon overhead. The farm was the place in 1966 where Tom and his family began their adventure of worldwide travel and assistance to people in third world, war-torn countries. Tom made the farm a place where the family returns from adventures, to practice the art of farming and animal husbandry and enjoy God’s Country.
Tom was an excellent horseman, very capable, entrepreneurial, fair, honest, brave and undaunted, a dedicated lifelong Democrat, active in his community, cooperative, a strong believer in Jesus, the definition of a good husband and father, and a kind and loyal friend and businessman. He was good-looking in his Levis, boots, and Stetson and the pride of his parents, Viola and Tom.
Tom’s wife of 66 years, Helen, preceded him in death. Tom is survived by his devoted daughter, Marsha Lee Wilson Dreier (Lieutenant Colonel, USAF, Craig W. Dreier, deceased) of Rio Rancho, N.M., loving son, Thomas Lee Wilson, Jr., and Tom Lee’s wife Tammie, of Cheyenne, two very well-loved granddaughters and husband, two – soon three – wonderful great-grandsons, numerous nieces and nephews, and his two beloved sisters, Edith Saunders and her husband, Tom’s great friend, Bob, and Donzella Schlager (Reuben, deceased) and Tom’s brother-in-law and wife, Delphin and Barbara Dickson. Tom had many good friends and Tom loved Goshen County. Friends are invited to donate to the Democratic Party, or any charity for the downtrodden, in his memory.