2012 – Gus Fleischli

Longtime local businessman who spearheaded an effort to fly veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II memorial honoring their service is this year’s recipient of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s Community Spirit Award.

For the past five years, Fleischli served as chairman of Honor Flight, which took more than 650 Wyoming veterans on a two-day trip to the nation’s capital. Every Wyoming veteran who was able to travel and wanted to go was sent on one of six chartered flights from Casper or Cheyenne. “It was the most rewarding endeavor that I ever took on,” Fleischli said.

Fleischli graduated from Cheyenne High School in 1943 and attended the University of Wyoming until World War II intervened. Fleischli joined the Army Air Corps at age 17 and flew 32 missions over Germany as a waist gunner in B-17 bombers until the war ended.

Returning to UW and later Cheyenne, he worked in his family’s Studebaker car business until 1955, when he formed a partnership that leased the land and building and operated a Husky Truck Stop in west Cheyenne. It grew to three truck stops along Interstate 80. He had also started Fleischli Oil Company.

Fleischli has a long history of involvement in other civic endeavors, especially Cheyenne Frontier Days. He worked odd jobs on the grounds and helped with security and in 1958 was elected to HEELS, the volunteer organization for CFD.

Fleischli also served as Grounds Committee chairman, and in 1966 and 1967, he was general chairman. He expanded the night show, where the main attraction was chuck wagon races, to include other entertainment.

For more than 20 years after his chairmanship, he rode in the arena picking up flank straps from the bucking horses. Fleischli now helps move the parade horses downtown from the Frontier Park and back.

Fleischli is a former board member for the CFD Old West Museum and served on its development committee.

He is a member and past president of the Cheyenne Quarterback Club and Cowboy Joe Club.

Fleischli was involved with the Cheyenne LEADS Progress and Prosperity effort to raise money to provide improvements to local business parkways. He has also been involved with the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce and raising money for the new Riske Field.

Fleischli has served on the Cheyenne Regional Medical Center Foundation board for the past 10 years. Since 1978, he has served on the University of Wyoming Business School Advisory Board, which helps the school recruit students and find jobs for graduates.

He was appointed by Gov. Dave Freudenthal to the Wyoming Business Council, where he served from 2005 to 2011.

Fleischli also served on the Wyoming Highway Commission for six years, including chairman in 1970 and 1971. He was president of the U.S. Highway 30 Travel Association, which raised money to advertise in the Chicago and Kansas City markets to promote car travel through Cheyenne.

He served in the Wyoming House of Representatives, and in 1977, during his third term, resigned to run, unsuccessfully, for governor.

Besides Honor Flight, Fleischli said one of his most memorable experiences was receiving an honorary doctor of law diploma from UW in 2011.

Asked about his philosophy of community service, Fleischli said: “When you live in a community, you need to be a part of it by getting involved. The more things you can lend your efforts to, the more rewarding it will be for everybody.”