Congratulating Mike Sullivanby Senator John Barrasso
Posted on 2016-01-11
BARRASSO. Mr. President, it is with great pleasure that I
wish to honor my friend, former Wyoming Governor Mike Sullivan, who is
being recognized as the 2016 National Western Stock Show's Citizen of
the West. It is fitting that Mike was chosen for this special award. He
joins a long line of honorees known for their values, ingenuity, and
hard work. Mike, a cowboy in every sense of the word, carries these
traits and many more in his heart and soul.
Mike grew up in the prairie lands of Douglas, WY. His formative years were spent riding horses, shooting coffee cans, and enjoying the vast opportunities for recreation around the area. This appreciation led to a lifelong love of the State and her people.
He was enamored with one Wyoming native in particular. Mike met Jane Metzler, who was born in Riverton and raised in Powell, during their studies at the University of Wyoming. Both of them were involved in social clubs and organizations. They even served together in the Associated Students of the University of Wyoming Student Senate. In 1961, the sweethearts were married. As they put down roots in Casper, they never lost sight of the important values that guide the people of our great State.
Wyoming is the first State to adopt an official code of ethics, which we proudly call our Cowboy Ethics. This list of 10 principles serves as a guide for the modern cowboy and represents the distinct values that the American West is famous for.
One of the tenets, ``Take pride in your work,'' brings to mind Mike and his incredible work ethic. With a petroleum engineering degree and a law degree, both earned at the University of Wyoming, Mike set his sights on practicing law. Well-loved and respected by many in the State, he ran--and was elected--to be Wyoming's 29th Governor in 1986. During his two terms, he governed the way he practiced law, with common sense and general decency.
His leadership was crucial as at that time the State was experiencing one of [[Page S27]] its most economically trying periods. Falling oil and gas prices provided an opportunity for him to reach across the aisle and work with Democrats and Republicans alike to develop solutions to benefit the State and her residents. He is well known for his bipartisanship, which has brought lasting change and has resulted in a better quality of life for everyone living in the West.
His political career did not end after serving as Governor. In 1999, President Bill Clinton appointed him to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. He graciously accepted the position, and he and Jane moved to Dublin. His service as Ambassador surpassed all expectations of success. Mike was instrumental in the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement in the United Kingdom. With his special brand of warmth, humility, and integrity, Mike dutifully served both the United States and the world in this important role.
Another of the principles listed in the Cowboy Ethics code is ``Ride for the brand.'' Upon meeting him, it is immediately apparent that Mike lives and breathes the spirit of the West. He has an intimate knowledge of the issues facing western States today, including the challenges of balancing energy development with natural resource preservation.
He is a natural leader, and his passion for the State has served him well in many other important roles. During his tenure as Governor, he was the chairman of the Western Governors' Association, as well as the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, which focuses on the responsible, environmentally sound development of America's oil and gas resources. He has won numerous awards in honor of his service and commitment to giving back, including a Distinguished Service Medal from the Wyoming National Guard, an award of merit from the Wyoming Heritage Society, and the President's Award from the Wyoming State Bar. Despite these grand honors, Mike remains humble, choosing to spend time with his wife and family while enhancing his community and State. He certainly does ride for the brand.
Mike's accomplishments are numerous, and for every one of them, his beloved wife, Jane Metzler Sullivan, has been by his side. As a third generation Wyoming native, Jane possesses an incredible value system reflective of the State's moral compass. Every bit a presence as her husband, Jane prides herself on making contributions to her community and State. She once said, ``Communities give us the opportunity to make our lives meaningful.'' The couple has been married for 54 years. Today, they enjoy the company of their three children and their spouses: Michelle Sullivan and Bryan Kuehl, Patrick and Ming Sullivan, and Theresa and JR Twiford. They adore their seven grandchildren: Patrick, Maggie, Caitie, Caitlyn, Michael, Jack, and Julia. I am confident that both Mike and Jane delight in sharing the best parts of their souls with their loving family.
Mike has been gifted with bright ideas and a subtle sense of humor. He is jovial and kind and remains deeply active in the community of Casper. Folks who know him love him. He is a seasoned diplomat, a generous patron, and a passionate advocate for Wyoming. He champions Wyoming's cowboy spirit, and his mission to preserve and share the legacy of the American West with others is truly outstanding.
I invite my colleagues to join me in celebrating this incredible man as he is named the 2016 Citizen of the West. We simply could not ask for a better leader, role model, or friend.