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Former Wyo. Governor, U.S. Sen. Clifford Hansen Dies

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Clifford Hansen, a former Wyoming governor and the nation's oldest former member of the U.S. Senate, died Tuesday night at his home in Jackson, his son said. He was 97.

Hansen suffered from ailments including respiratory problems and had returned home Monday after hospital treatment for a broken pelvis, according to his son, Peter Hansen.

Peter Hansen said his father wanted to be remembered for having been married to his wife, Martha, for 75 years. The couple celebrated their anniversary Sept. 24.

"I am sure there are many things that could be said," Peter Hansen said by phone from Jackson late Tuesday. "He was a wonderful husband, father, and I'm sure other people will say many other things."

Clifford Hansen, a Republican, was elected governor in 1962. As governor, he supported lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, increasing retirement pay for state employees and repealing the state's ban on accepting federal aid for education.

As his term as governor drew to a close in 1966, Hansen ran for the Senate, beating Democrat Teno Roncalio.

In the Senate, Hansen served on the Veterans Affairs Committee, the Finance Committee and the Special Committee on Aging. He backed reservoir projects in Wyoming, designating national recreation areas and wilderness areas in Wyoming, and placing a ceiling on federal expenditures.

Hansen was re-elected in 1972 and stepped down in 1978.

Hansen was born Oct. 16, 1912, to Peter and Sylvia Hansen, who homesteaded at Zenith in Jackson Hole. Hansen attended public schools in Jackson and graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1934 with a degree in animal science.

He returned to Jackson Hole to ranch and married Martha Close in the fall of 1934.

Hansen began in politics as a Teton County commissioner from 1943 to 1951. As a commissioner, he fought to keep hunting legal in Grand Teton National Park and to obtain payments in lieu of taxes for people who turned over land for the new park.

Hansen also was president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association from 1953 to 1955 and was a University of Wyoming trustee from 1946 to 1963.

In 1995, he was inducted into the National Cowboy Hall of Fame as a "Great Westerner."

Hansen is survived by his wife, Martha, son, Peter, five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. His daughter, Mary Mead, ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1990 and died when thrown from a horse while herding cattle in 1996.

Arrangements were pending.

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