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GOP megadonor Foster Friess dies at 81

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Foster Friess

Foster Friess speaks to members of the community during an event he held at Eggington's in downtown Casper in February 2020. Friess died Thursday at 81.

Foster Friess, a prominent Republican megadonor who ran for governor in Wyoming in 2018, died Thursday at the age of 81.

The Jackson investor finished second to now-Gov. Mark Gordon in the 2018 GOP primary with 25.6% of the vote, despite earning the endorsement of then President Donald Trump. Gordon was the state treasurer at the time.

The Jackson Hole News&Guide reported in January that Friess had been diagnosed with myelodysplasia, a form of bone marrow cancer. Friess posted on social media in March that he was dealing with the ailment.

“When people would ask what his disease was, he would say, ‘My white blood cells were on strike,’” said House 2022 candidate Darin Smith, a good friend and political ally of Friess.

“I’ve always joked that I want to be like Foster Friess when I grow up,” he added.

Friess donated over $500 million in his lifetime, according to the press release announcing his death. He was a major donor to Republican political action committees, state republican parties and Republican candidates like Trump, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and many more. Friess was well known for bankrolling the presidential ambitions of former Sen. Rick Santorum.

In the last three weeks of March 2021, he donated almost $78,000 to political causes.

“When Foster believed strongly in something or someone, as he often did, he jumped in with both feet and both arms,” Sen. John Barrasso said in a statement. “He had an unwavering commitment to God, his country, his family and those less fortunate. Bobbi and I will miss his good nature and his warm heart.”

Friess was a nationally known figure in Republican circles. He was a major investor in the Daily Caller conservative news site and served on the board of Turning Point USA, a student-focused right-wing advocacy group. Earlier this year, Trump, Sen. Jim DeMint, and Rep. Mark Meadows presented Friess with the Conservative Lifetime Achievement Award.

“Today we lost a great American patriot & follower of Christ,” former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said. “Foster Friess was a man with a great heart and a deep love for America.”

Outside of politics, Friess donated $100,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Wyoming in February. At the close of 2020, Friess chose 400 people to each select a charity to receive $100,000 from the Lynn and Foster Friess Family Foundation. Friess has won a number of major philanthropic awards over his lifetime.

Since his death was first announced Thursday, many Republican politicians took to Twitter to praise Friess, including all three members of Wyoming’s congressional delegation and Gordon, who called him a “steady voice for Republican and Christian values.”

“My prayers and condolences are with the Friess family, in particular his wife of nearly 60 years Lynn and his four children,” Rep. Liz Cheney wrote. “His love of Wyoming, service to our state, and legacy of philanthropy will never be forgotten. May he Rest In Peace.”

“First and foremost, Foster Friess was a servant of God,” wrote Sen. Cynthia Lummis. “A generous philanthropist, devout Christian and unwavering patriot, he was dedicated to improving the lives of people around the globe.”

Foster is survived by his wife of 58 years, Lynnette, and their four children, Traci, Stephen, Carrie and Michael. Foster and Lynn have 15 grandchildren.

“We are grateful for the wonderful life Foster lived and thankful to the many people who have shared their prayers during his illness,” his family wrote in a statement. “We know many of you mourn with us, and we will have more details soon on Foster’s funeral.”

Remembrance services will be held in Jackson; Scottsdale, Arizona; and his birthplace of Rice Lake, Wisconsin.


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