|Name||John P. Vinich|
, Wyoming , United States
|| June 13, 1950
|| November 27, 2004
Feb 05, 2011 09:39pm
Caucasian - Catholic -
|Info||Born: June 13, 1950, Hudson. |
Education: U. of Wyoming, B.S., 1972.
Military Service: None.
Occupation: Restaurant and bar owner.
Family: Wife, Lynette; three children.
Religion: Roman Catholic.
Political Career: Wyo. House, 1974-82; Wyo. Senate, 1982-98.
John Vinich was a friend of mine. He passed away in his sleep at his home in Hudson, Wyoming on December 1. John was only 54 years old.
John was famous in Wyoming for being a fiery populist Democrat in a sea of libertarian-tinged Republicans. He was the youngest person ever elected to the State Legislature (22) and served long terms in both the House and the Senate. He came within 1,300 votes of defeating uber-con U.S. Senator Malcolm Wallop. John encouraged me to run for office, and when I ran for congress in 1986, John was also on the slate running for Superintendent of Public Instruction. We campaigned together all over the state, and I enjoyed his company tremendously.
He owned a working-class bar in Hudson, a small community originally settled by Eastern-Europeans laborers, and the bar was for decades the de facto headquarters in Wyoming for blue-collar Democrats. It is called the Union bar, with generations of miners and roughnecks meeting there to have a beer and organize – to the extent that they could in right-to-work Wyoming. That was all because of the owner, John Vinich, and his father Mike before him.
The largest Indian reservation in America is in Fremont County, Wyoming, where John lived, and he was a fearless and determined advocate for the Native American community. It was he and Scott Ratliff, a state legislator and member of the Arapahoe tribe, who inspired me to get more involved in politics.
I wish I could have seen him again before he died… Just walked into the Union bar, settled into a barstool, sipped a brewski, and talked politics one more time with one of the coolest guys I ever met.
Rest in peace, John Vinich.