Four-term state lawmaker Rep. Sue Wallis, R-Recluse, died this morning.
She was 56 years old.
The cause is still unknown, said Campbell County Coroner Tom Eekhoff.
Wallis and state Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau were high school friends and had known each other for 40 years.
“It’s a huge loss to the state of Wyoming,” Lubanu said. “She was an incredible asset. She was a woman of principles who spoke her mind whether it was politically correct, whether it was popular or not. She’s going to be a huge loss to the community.”
Wallis’ politics were a unique blend of libertarian and Republican. She budgeted conservatively on the House Appropriations Committee but sponsored an array of legislation that didn't always conform to Republican principles.
Wallis supported equal rights for same-sex couples, medical marijuana and the opening of horse slaughter plants across the country. She also was pro-choice.
Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, just attended a State Agriculture and Rural Leaders Summit with Wallis earlier this month in Oklahoma City. She received a standing ovation when she spoke at the event, Driskill said.
“It’s a big loss for the agriculture community in Wyoming,” he said.
Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, had heated debates on the House floor with Wallis.
“But at the end of the day,” he said, “we were the best of friends.”
Wallis’ western zeal didn’t just end with agriculture and politics.
She wrote her own poetry and would recite it on the floor of the House and at other political events.
“She was an adept cowboy poet,” Lubnau said.
Wallis was preceded in death by her husband, Rod McQueary, in December 2012.
“She didn’t miss any legislative duties because she’s a woman of principle,” he said. “I am happy to see her reunited with the love of her life.”
Wallis’ seat will not be vacant during the upcoming budget session of the Legislature.
Members of the state GOP’s Central Committee from Campbell County will provide three names of candidates to the Campbell County Commission. The commissioners will then choose an appointee before the session begins Feb. 10.