Dick Jones (Wyoming politician)

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Richard R. "Dick" Jones

Wyoming State Senator for Park County
In office

Wyoming State Representative
for Park County
In office

Mayor of Powell, Wyoming
In office

Born September 5, 1910
Huntley, near Billings in Yellowstone County, Montana
Died August 20, 2008 (aged 97)
Powell, Park County, Wyoming
Resting place Riverside Cemetery in Cody, Wyoming
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) (1) Estes Lorraine "Jackie" Clarke Jones (married 1932–1984, her death)

(2) Evelyn Nelson Jones (married 1987–2008, his death)

Children Nancy Jones Cook
Alan Jones
Tom Jones
Residence Cody and Powell, Wyoming
Alma mater Huntley Project High School
Occupation Trucking executive
Religion United Methodist
  • (3) Dick Jones Trucking Company, a family-owned business, continues to operate from Powell, Wyoming.
  • (4) Over the years, Jones identified himself with the Ronald W. Reagan faction within the Wyoming GOP.
  • (5) Jones attributed his business and political success not to "luck," but instead "work."

Richard R. Jones (September 5, 1910 – August 20, 2008), known as Dick Jones, was an American trucking executive from Cody and Powell in Park County, Wyoming, who served as a state representative from 1953 to 1955 and a state senator from 1955 to 1974. He was the unsuccessful Republican gubernatorial nominee in the nationally Democratic year of 1974. A conservative, Jones was allied with the Ronald W. Reagan faction in his state's GOP.


Jones was the third of six children born to Swedish immigrants and naturalized citizens, Alfred and Elsa Jones. He spent his early years on the family homestead east of Billings, Montana, on the Huntley Project, an irrigation showcase. In 1928, he graduated from Huntley Project High School. The area is now referred to as the unincorporated community of Huntley in Yellowstone County, Montana.</ref>

His family-owned Dick Jones Trucking Company still operates from Powell; at its peak, the company reached into thirty-eight states.[1]

Jones worked for the railroad and delivered milk in Billings. He started the first trucking company in Casper in eastern Wyoming. In 1935, Jones purchased a one-truck freight company in Powell, the original Dick Jones Trucking. A son, grandson, and a granddaughter work in the business. For many years, the company was based in Cody, but it returned in 2001 to Powell, where Jones had been elected to the city council in 1940 and as mayor in 1950.[1]

In 1932, he married his high school sweetheart, the former Estes Lorraine "Jackie" Clarke (1911–1984).[2]

Political life

Jones was elected to the Wyoming House in 1954 and elevated by voters to the Senate in 1956, where he served until he resigned to run for governor in a bid to succeed retiring Republican Governor Stanley K. Hathaway. Jones was also the Wyoming Senate President from 1967 to 1968 and for a time was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. While he was a senator, Governor Hathaway named him to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.[1]

Jones won the Republican nomination for governor by only 834 votes (1.4 percent) over his closest competitor, then state Senator Malcolm Wallop, a New York City-born rancher and businessman from Sheridan in northeastern Wyoming, later a three-term conservative U.S. Senator. Two years later, Wallop would unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Gale William McGee (1915–1992). Jones received 15,502 (26.5 percent) of the primary ballots to Wallop's 14,688 (25.1 percent). Two other candidates were marginally behind, Roy Peck, a newspaper publisher from Riverton, with 14, 217 (24.7 percent), and Clarence Addison Brimmer, Jr. (1922–2014), with 14,014 (24 percent). Brimmer was appointed in 1975 by President Gerald R. Ford, Jr., to one of the Wyoming federal judgeships; he retired in 2013 and died in 2014. There is no runoff election in Wyoming; so Jones' primary plurality was sufficient for the nomination.[3]

Jones then faced Democrat Edgar Jacob Herschler (1915–1992) of Kemmerer in Lincoln County. With 19,997 votes (46.6 percent), Herschler defeated two primary rivals, Harry E. Leimback and John J. Rooney, who polled 15,255 (35.5 percent) and 7,674 (17.9 percent), respectively.[4] Rooney had been the unsuccessful 1970 Democratic nominee against Hathaway. Herschler prevailed, 71,741 votes (55.9 percent) to Jones' 56,645 (44.1 percent). The national political mood worked against Republicans in light of the Watergate affair though nearly all of the Republican candidates nationally had nothing to do with the matter. The total Republican vote in the primary had been 58,421. Jones failed to acquire 1,776 votes cast in the Republican primary and made no apparent gains among Democrats. Herschler, however, polled 28,815 more votes in the general election that the combined Democratic primary total.[5] Herschler served three terms as governor from 1975 to 1987.

In 1978, former Republican State Senator John Ostlund of Gillette in Campbell County in northeastern Wyoming, polled 67,595 votes (49.1 percent) in his unsuccessful effort to deny Herschler a second term. Ostlund's vote was hence 10,950 more than Jones had polled four years earlier.[6]

Jones was thereafter a financial supporter of Reagan in 1976, 1980, and 1984 and contributed to various Republican candidates in Wyoming during that time as well as the state GOP and the National Republican Senatorial Committee. In 1999, he became a contributor to the first presidential campaign of U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona, a Moderate Republican who was conservative in his early Senate years. In that campaign, McCain lost the party nod to George W. Bush of Texas. He also donated to former primary rival Malcolm Wallop and former Senator Alan Simpson, another Moderate Republican from Cody and one of two sons of the late conservative Governor Milward Simpson.[7]

Death and legacy

Jones died of complications from surgery in Powell Hospital some two weeks before his 98th birthday. In addition to his wife Evelyn, he was survived by daughter Nancy (husband Tom) Cook of Cody, and sons Alan C. Jones (born 1941) and wife Alayne of Powell, and Tom Jones and wife Barbara Costa Jones of the capital city of Cheyenne; five grandchildren, Pam Ruehle, Rick Cook, Carol Zierk, LeAnne Kindred, and Mitch Jones; ten great-grandchildren; sister Ruby Snyder and sister-in-law Alma Jones, both of Huntley. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers, Bill and Bob Jones, and sisters, Irene Hauf and Lois Weidinger. Services were held on August 25 at the First United Methodist Church of Cody. Interment was in Riverside Cemetery, founded in Cody by William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody.[2]

Jones was a mover and shaker behind the creation of Northwest Community College (now Northwest College) in Powell and served on the original board of trustees. He was also instrumental in the formation of the Northwest Community College Foundation and served on the board of directors.[1] Wyoming has a collection of community colleges but only one four-year degree-granting institution, the University of Wyoming at Laramie.[2]

Jones' lack of higher education proved no impediment to his success. When he was once quizzed about his "luck," he replied, "Yes, I am lucky, the harder I work, the luckier I am."[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Jones obituary. The Billings Gazette (August 28, 2008; under pay wall).
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Richard R “Dick” Jones (1910-2008) - Find A Grave Memorial, accessed July 23, 2021.
  3. Congressional Quarterly Press Guide to U.S. Elections, 2005 edition, p. 1607.
  4. CQ, p. 1607.
  5. CQ p. 1538.
  6. CQ, p. 1538.
  7. Campaign Contributions for Richard R. Jones. newsmeat.com; no longer on-line.