Leslie Blythe’s friends agree on many points: She was smart, driven, compassionate, giving.
But there’s one question they struggle to answer. How did she manage so many responsibilities? How did she do it all with such grace?
Blythe, 59, died Friday at the Wyoming Medical Center. For decades, she worked for Rocky Mountain Power while also serving as a staple in Wyoming journalism and public service.
Her resume, in part, includes leadership roles with the Petroleum Club, the Wyoming Press Association, the Wyoming Broadcasters’ Association, United Way, the Casper Chamber of Commerce, First Interstate Bank and the AAA Mountain West Regional Advisory Board, according to her online obituary. She also helped establish the Five Trails Rotary Club and was an integral member of Golden Retriever breeder organizations both regionally and nationally. She worked for Rocky Mountain Power for more than three decades until her death.
“How on Earth did she get it all done?” longtime friend Bill Sniffin said Monday. “I don’t know if I know anybody who is as busy and connected in so many ways as she was.”
Sniffin first met Blythe decades ago while he worked as the editor of the Lander Journal. He hired her as an intern and she became an immediate star among the newsroom staff.
“She was vivacious, really smart and really tough,” Sniffin said. “She thrived there.”
The two remained friends for decades and Sniffin recently recruited her to serve on the board of directors for the Mountain West AAA advisory board. The board canceled its monthly teleconference Friday after hearing the news of Blythe’s death. She was so well loved, Sniffin said, even by people who only met her a handful of times.
“It was a terrible loss,” Sniffin said. “I still can’t get my arms around it. Rarely do you get someone who was so full of life.”
Jim Angell, executive director of the Wyoming Press Association, said Blythe brought infectious enthusiasm to every post she held.
“We’ve lost a little bit of heart since her death,” he said.
As far as Angell can tell, Blythe held the association’s record for longest continuous board appointment. Blythe served as the board member who represented non-journalism entities for more than 25 years, he said.
To find Blythe in a crowded room, all one had to do was follow the sound of laughter.
“Wherever Leslie was, that’s where the fun was,” he said.
Ron Franscell, a former Wyoming newspaperman and longtime friend, said everyone in Wyoming journalism knew Blythe and respected her professionalism. She understood the business of news. Her death has left him confounded.
“Death never comes at the right time, but Leslie’s death is especially premature,” Franscell wrote in an email. “She gave generously to (her husband) Mark, her family and friends, her dogs, and to Casper and Wyoming.”
“But she had a lot more to give, and that’s what breaks my heart.”