Author Archive

2020 – Harvey Deselms

 

Harvey Deselms never made the conscious decision to better the lives of his neighbors. It’s just his way of life.

“Being from a small community, everybody has to help everybody,” said Deselms, who grew up on his family’s ranch between Burns and Albin. “And it didn’t matter whether you’re helping somebody in front of a big crowd, or you’re helping them behind the scenes in the corral … if there’s work to do, you do it. That was the work ethic of my parents and my siblings.”
 
It was this dedication to his community that led to Deselms’ selection as the recipient of the 2020 Wyoming Tribune Eagle Community Spirit Award. His contribution to the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum art shows, Downtown Development Authority Board of Directors, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center Foundation Board of Directors and countless other volunteer experiences has left a mark on his lifelong home of Laramie County – which is why his nominators, Karen and Dean “Doc” Schroeder, nominated him several years in a row.
 
Most residents know Deselms as the owner of Deselms Fine Art & Custom Framing, the business he’s operated in downtown Cheyenne since 1992, but becoming a gallery owner wasn’t always his plan. In the spring of 1986, Deselms graduated from Albin High School. That fall, he moved to Cheyenne to attend Laramie County Community College, where he earned an associate degree in archaeology and anthropology.
 
His time at LCCC ignited a passion for studying mankind through artifacts, which is how he landed a job at the CFD Old West Museum. Shirley Flynn hired Deselms in 1987 as a weekend employee who did whatever was needed, and much of that involved interfacing with the public – one of Deselms’ favorite activities. When she retired several years later, he was named assistant director and took charge of the museum’s two annual art exhibits: the Western Spirit Art Show & Sale and the Cheyenne Frontier Days Western Art Show & Sale (which he still volunteers for).
 
Now, Deselms serves on the museum’s board of directors.
 
“When I was a kid, I was picking up rocks, and then it became artifacts, and then eventually I was like, well, I’m going to be an archaeologist,” he said. “But when I got the job at the museum, part of my duties was to help with the art shows, and that’s when I was like ‘Gosh, this is cool,” so I slowed down on the archaeology and veered toward the art. … It just broadened my horizons from a little farm kid.”
 
The art shows are two of the museum’s largest fundraisers, and heading them led Deselms to donate pieces to nonprofit auctions around town once he opened his gallery. One initiative that particularly stood out to his nominators was Art for the Cure, for which he recruited artists to donate original artwork to be auctioned off at a gala benefiting Susan G. Komen of Wyoming.
 
Through his time at the museum, Deselms was mentored by Flynn, who wrote the first script for the Downtown Trolley Tours with Betty Anne Beierle. The pair recruited Deselms as a guide during the first season of trolley tours in Cheyenne, where he used his beloved people skills to welcome residents and visitors alike onboard.
 
“That was a way to, again, meet people and learn about our history,” Deselms said. “And just every aspect of volunteering and helping somewhere led to another. … I think we all need to be a part of more. If I have a problem and I help somebody else, then my problem is a lot less.”
 
Doc Schroeder met Deselms while volunteering during CFD – he recalled striking up a conversation with him while moving a box – and he was immediately drawn in by his warm demeanor. They bonded over their love of animals and appreciation of art, and as the years went on, and Doc became more interested in purchasing art, Deselms taught him everything he needed to know about collecting.
 
“If I was going to use a word to describe him, I would use the word genuine,” Doc said. “What you see is what you get with Harvey. He’s got a great sense of humor, he’s a funny guy, and he’s not putting that on for anybody. … He just kind of exudes humanity. He’s a people person, and he’s a nonjudgmental person.”
 
Karen Schroeder met Deselms through her husband, but then got to know him even better through her involvement with the University of Wyoming’s Cowboy Joe Club auction. She knew she could rely on Deselms to always donate a print, or provide the framing for a donated piece of artwork that didn’t come with a frame.
 
“He’s an honest man,” Karen said. “I can’t see a cruel bone in his body or a deceptive bone in his body. It’s just not there. … He was the baby of the family, and he was the good son.”
 
One example the couple recalled was in the early days of Deselms’ business, when he’d moved from his initial space downtown to the house at 303 E. 17th St. where his gallery is now. He liked the space, but was intrigued when he heard the Whipple mansion across the street was available to rent. He made a deal with the landlord and began to move his displays in when suddenly the landlord changed his mind. He told Deselms that he’d sold the house and it would need to be vacated within 30 days.
 
The Schroeders wandered into the house not long after this conversation, and Deselms had an unusual look of frustration on his face. He told them what happened, but refused to let his disappointment get to him. Instead, he got right to work lugging his artwork and display cases back to 303 E. 17th St.
 
“They treated him like garbage, I thought, but he moved across (the street) and never a bad word,” Doc said. “Never a ‘poor little me.’ Always ‘let’s get the job done.’ … That’s Harvey. He just doesn’t dwell on the negative. He doesn’t get beat. The word ‘can’t’ is not part of his vocabulary.”
 
That can-do attitude is one reason the Schroeders were able to amass several letters of support for Deselms every year they’ve nominated him.
 
In one letter, Kathy Steil recalled that during her time as vice president of the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, Deselms opened his gallery in the evenings for the Young Professionals club to use it as a meeting space. In another letter, Kim Kincheloe said Deselms was always the first volunteer on-site to help set up during Art for the Cure. In another, former Recover Wyoming Director Laura Griffith said Deselms has encouraged many on the road to addiction recovery, and that it’s “not a stretch to say his support has saved lives.”
 
In addition to donating art and helping out with several nonprofit auctions, Deselms is passionate about bringing public art to Cheyenne – particularly sculptures. He’s the man behind the large boots throughout Cheyenne, and former City Council member Joe Dougherty noted that Deselms was the Art in Public Places committee’s go-to guy when the city needed help finding high-quality regional art that it could afford.
 
And, as Jim Hearne noted in his letter, Deselms was the “driving force” behind the Capitol Avenue Project placing a bronze sculpture on every corner of downtown’s main drag.
 
“In a time when towns and cities are losing the character of what makes a place unique, he has brought about a resurgence of art that enhances,” wrote Bobbie Carlyle, the Loveland-based sculpture artist who created several bronze sculptures seen around Cheyenne (thanks to Deselms).
 
Taking this praise isn’t easy for Deselms, who blushes at the slightest compliment, but he said he’s humbled by the recognition – even though he can think of several others who are deserving of it.
 
“Darn near everybody that I know is deserving of the Community Spirit Award, because we all have it. We enjoy this place and want to make it better, and we make it better, one person at a time.”
 
Niki Kottmann is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s features editor. She can be reached at nkottmann@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3135. Follow her on Twitter at @niki_mariee.
 
In lieu of an in-person award ceremony this year, we have prepared a 12-minute video presentation that features interviews with Harvey Deselms and the couple who nominated him, Karen and Dean “Doc” Schroeder. You can find the video on the homepage at WyomingNews.com and at wtecommunityspirit.com.

2019 – Bryan “Alf” Grzegorczyk

$1.9 million raised. Ten years of effort. Countless people helped.

One man to thank.

Bryan “Alf” Grzegorczyk, the creator and driving force behind the wildly successful charity fundraising event called Thankful Thursday, has helped change the lives of multitudes of Cheyenne community members.

Now Grzegorczyk has been selected as the recipient of this year’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle Community Spirit Award, thanks to his work with Thankful Thursday.

His ideas and tireless efforts since 2009 have raised more than $1.9 million for charities such as Special Olympics Wyoming, St. Joseph’s Food Pantry and Capitol City Canine Search and Rescue.

“People say, ‘It’s so good what you do for the community,’” Grzegorczyk said. “It’s not really me. This whole community is just so giving. It takes a whole community to make this thing happen.”

Each of the Thankful Thursday events raises money for a different charity organization. Members of the charity gather live-auction items to sell at the weekly event at AmVets Post 10 on East Lincolnway. Grzegorczyk lines up the venue, finds sponsors and organizes the volunteers who set up the facility for the event’s evening of entertainment.

While the main show is the auction, the party atmosphere of Thankful Thursday includes food and beverages, raffles, prizes and a good time for everyone who attends.

Dallas Tyrrell, who was one of several people who nominated Grzegorczyk for the Community Spirit Award, said he has been impressed with the enthusiasm Grzegorczyk has for the project. Tyrrell said part of what makes Thankful Thursday so great – in addition to how many people have been helped because of it – is how much fun people have while they’re there.

A friend invited Tyrrell to a Thankful Thursday event, and he has been a supporter ever since.

“I went to the first event and was totally in awe about it,” Tyrrell said. “Alf was such a great entertainer, and I was totally blown away with the amount of money that had been raised in just a few hours. I was hooked on Thankful Thursday from that point forward.”

Grzegorczyk said the idea for Thankful Thursday came out of an effort to fill his bar on quiet weeknights when nothing was going on in town.

While brainstorming ways to draw in a crowd, he and his manager decided to try to create a different charity event every week. At their first event, they raised $50 for the Red Cross. He concluded that at least it was $50 more than the Red Cross had before, so they continued on from there.

“The first season, we got up to $500, and we were all excited about that,” Grzegorczyk said. “It just kicked off. I thought, like anything in Cheyenne, it would run its course in a couple years and then peter out. Not this one. This just keeps on going and going.”

Now, 10 years and 251 Thankful Thursdays later, they raised $12,000 in one night for Special Olympics Wyoming at this season’s first Thankful Thursday on Sept. 5.

“He’s taken it from a great idea that was in his mind to one of the greatest volunteer fundraising efforts that we have seen in this community in a long time,” said Phil Van Horn, another nominator. “He’s one of those guys who gets down in the trenches and makes things happen. It takes a lot of work. His enthusiasm for helping other people is infectious.”

There are about 40 charities waiting for their turn to be featured in the Thankful Thursday lineup due to its vibrant success.

“There isn’t one person Alf wouldn’t help,” Tyrrell said. “He’s always looking for ways to improve the community and ways to improve lives. I know of groups and organizations that have been transformed because of what he’s done.”

Grzegorczyk and his volunteers run two seasons per year – one in the spring that lasts about 13 weeks and one in the fall that runs for 11 weeks.

They post a list of the scheduled charities for each season on their Facebook page well in advance so those charity volunteers have plenty of time to gather up their auction items. Grzegorczyk said the more auction items a charity offers, the better their chance of having a good fundraiser – which gives the organizations ownership in the outcome.

Volunteering is nothing new for Grzegorczyk. Born and raised in Bay City, Michigan, Grzegorczyk joined the U.S. Air Force in 1982, which is what originally brought him to Cheyenne. He served here for most of his 26 years and was assigned to the 90th Strategic Missile Wing. In 1998, he moved to Washington, D.C., for work with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. He spent five years there and then returned to F.E. Warren Air Force Base as part of the 90th Space Wing, where he stayed until his retirement.

Not surprisingly, during his time in the Air Force, he earned the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal by being active in the community.

It was during his time in the Air Force that he earned the nickname that most people know him by. He said when he joined the service, no one could pronounce his last name, so they started calling him Alphabet. Soon it was shortened to Alf, and the name stuck.

“A lot of people don’t even realize my name is Bryan,” he said. “They think it’s short for Alfred.”

Now the name is attached to his business, Alf’s Pub and Package Liquor.

Before retirement, he had purchased Jake’s Tavern, which he renamed Alf’s Pub. He then purchased the Redwood Lounge a couple of years after that. He sold that establishment after a couple of years so he could acquire some property around Alf’s Pub to expand that business. After an extensive remodel, the Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce gave him its Beautification Award.

Grzegorczyk has also led a successful fundraising effort at Alf’s Pub for the Laramie County Christmas Bar Bucks program as its coordinator.

“In recent years, Alf’s Pub and Package Liquor team has raised the most money during the campaign, netting the Bar Buck’s Champion Trophy five times,” Bobbie Swanlund said in her nomination letter. “While owner of the Redwood Lounge, his team won the trophy two times.”

Even with all the hours he volunteers for Thankful Thursday, Grzegorczyk still finds time to help with other organizations. He is a member of the Fraternal Order of the Eagles, AmVets, Knights of Columbus, Airport Golf Club, the American Legion and the Sons of the American Legion. His volunteer work extended to being the commander of the American Legion Post 6, department commander for the American Legion-State of Wyoming and president of the Airport Golf Club. He is a past president of the Laramie County Liquor Association and is currently on the board of directors for the Wyoming State Liquor Association.

“Bryan continues to give back to his community, donating his time for nonprofit organizations’ charity events as emcee and auctioneer, to include Chugwater Chili Cook-off, CASA, Black Dog Animal Rescue, Platte Rivers Veterans Fly Fishing, Cheyenne Equestrian Center and Ales for Alzheimer’s, just to name a few,” wrote Swanlund.

With no plans to step down from his work with Thankful Thursday anytime soon, Grzegorczyk said seeing people’s faces when he announces how much their charity has earned is his reward.

“You still get chills up your spine when you’re announcing and you see the joy in their face,” he said. “It’s so rewarding.”

Those who know him see how much he loves it, too.

“The biggest thing that has brought him enjoyment is doing Thankful Thursday and being able to help people,” said Tyrrell. “It has been his focus, above his business or anything else he’s done. It’s a total dream for him to do this. You can tell – he absolutely loves this.”

2018 – Mary E. Hartman

If you’re a casual observer of the comings and goings in the city of Cheyenne, the name Mary Hartman might not ring any bells.

But if you start to recite the long list of her accomplishments and organizational involvement, it becomes clear that most everybody in town has felt her impact.

Hartman is a longtime elementary school teacher, an avid historian, the original organizer of the Delta Kappa Gamma book sale and a tireless community volunteer.

“Why hasn’t she been properly recognized by the community?” her friend Mark Junge wrote in a letter. “The answer is simple. Because her life is testimony to the adage: ‘It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.’”

But today, Cheyenne’s “unsung hero” is coming into the spotlight. Hartman is this year’s recipient of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s Community Spirit Award.

Hartman grew up in Casper and has spent the past four decades in or near Cheyenne, where she taught at Cole and Baggs elementary schools.

She said her favorite part of her job was trying to make school so much fun that her students didn’t even realize they were learning.

One of her favorite lessons was about bats. She said young boys would get so excited about the subject matter that they wouldn’t even realize they were learning new vocabulary words and reading skills.

In a nomination letter, one of her former colleagues, Kathleen Janssen, also wrote about plays that Hartman organized for children.

“This included special costumes (she provided), unique backdrops (she built with the help of volunteers), teaching of stage terms and memorization of parts. Her character picks were perfect matches to student abilities,” Janssen wrote. “The experience provided the students with positive, lifelong memories and knowledge of ‘plays’ that carried over into future learnings. The whole school looked forward to this yearly event.”

Hartman has also been active in getting the elderly involved in education through the Foster Grandparent program – an effort that allows people without a lot of income to earn a little bit of extra money by helping out in local classrooms.

She said she’s seen the benefits both as a member of the board and as a teacher benefiting from their help.

Her commitment to education also extends to history.

Hartman has been actively involved in Cheyenne Frontier Days as a member of the Wheels organization, on the CFD Carriage Coordinating Committee and as a leader for the CFD Western Art Show and Sale. She has helped chronicle the history of many of the carriages and has found a joy in learning about them.

But perhaps Hartman’s biggest legacy has been the Delta Kappa Gamma book sale. She initially pitched the idea of having a “little” sale to raise some money for the organization’s scholarship programs. Now, that sale has taken on a life of its own, fielding thousands of books and raising money for educational programs and scholarships.

To list the rest of Hartman’s service, with all the organizations she has touched, would take a while. Some of the most notable are the CFD Old West Museum, the Southeast Wyoming Mental Health board, the Westerners Society, Wyoming State Historical Society and the Philanthropic Educational Organization.

But even with all of her service, Hartman is the last to acknowledge her impact. Instead, she’ll recognize the other people who drive carriages, sort books and organize different programs.
“I think it’s really important that you stress that I couldn’t have done any of that stuff alone – I had to have all the wonderful people in Cheyenne,” she said. “It’s a team effort. This is not just one person, and I’d really like … to give them credit.”

Hartman’s goal in service, after all, is not a selfish one.

When asked why she participates so much in the community, she had to think for a moment.
“I want to empower people through education; I want people to have choices with their lives,” she said. “I’m just as proud of a kid that I’ve had that’s a master welder as I am with a kid that has gone to college. We all are educated and interested in different things … I just want everyone to have that choice.”

2017 – Jim Hearne

Jim Hearne, a retired certified public accountant, has spent many years and hundreds of hours on a variety of causes in Cheyenne, both through service-oriented clubs and others focused on economic development.

He has participated in organizations including Cheyenne Frontier Days, the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce, the Cheyenne Rotary Club and the Cheyenne Lions Club.

It came as no surprise to those in attendance at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum that Hearne would be honored for service. Nonetheless, Hearne said he was “overwhelmed” by all the support.

“I’m just overwhelmed with all the people who came to see me,” he said with a smile.

In his speech, Hearne highlighted the role of Cheyenne Frontier Days in teaching him about volunteerism and community spirit.
“It’s the first place where I saw people from all walks of life serving side by side,” he said. “It’s absolutely amazing what a team can accomplish when it has total focus and dedication to producing a first-class Western celebration to benefit our community.”

While working at his accounting firm, McGee, Hearne and Paiz, Hearne said he always encouraged employees to volunteer – not because they were told to, but because they were passionate about a cause and wanted to improve the community.

“One of (the firm’s) core values was community stewardship,” he said. “I always encouraged staff to be involved, but cautioned them that volunteering to fulfill someone’s request was not the way to go.”
He attributed much of his success to his wife, Peggy, and his business partners, family, friends and the community.

“I believe that the community spirit is alive and well in Cheyenne, Wyoming, but we all need to continue to encourage involvement in community activities,” he said.

Hearne’s speech was preceded by his accounting firm partners, Michl McGee and Joseph Paiz. Both men lauded Hearne’s commitment to service and dedication to his work.

“Jim is clearly richly deserving of the award,” Paiz said. “Jim … does what he does because it is who he is, and he does it for all the right reasons – regardless of the credit.”

McGee remembered meeting Hearne when he moved to Cheyenne. He recounted years of work and Hearne’s contributions to the business.
“It was a hell of a ride for the three of us,” McGee said.
In the audience, family and longtime friends of Hearne celebrated his accomplishments.

Hearne’s sister, Cheryl Bath, and her husband, Vince Bath, traveled from Laramie for the ceremony.

Vince Bath marveled at how Hearne was able to help run the family cattle ranch, work at his accounting firm and volunteer at the same time.

“I don’t know how he gets all his energy,” he said. “But he loves to help.”

Other past recipients of the award were also in attendance.

Bill Dubois, who was honored with the Community Spirit Award in 1999, said Hearne was completely deserving of the honor.

“Jim is a wonderful man,” Dubois said. “He’s worked very hard, and he’s a wonderful public servant.”

2016 – Maurice “Maury” Brown

Maurice “Maury” Brown, a lifelong philanthropist and business owner in Cheyenne, has been selected as the 2016 recipient of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s Community Spirit Award.

Brown, 83, was born outside Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and spent his first few years in Iowa. His family moved to Cheyenne when he was 9, following his uncle, who started a grocery store here. Growing up, Brown worked selling newspapers, shining shoes and later at his family’s businesses. He graduated from Cheyenne High School in 1951.

Brown said he told his mother he wasn’t going to college while his parents worked long hours at their store. I said, “Mom and Dad, I’m not going to school for three or four hours a day, four or five days a week, while you’re sitting here working 10 hours a day, seven days a week. I’m just not going to do it,” he said.

“None of us can even comprehend the amount of charity that he’s provided to this community and this state because he’s not in it for the credit, and it’s even hard to find out how much he has done.” Governor Matt Mead said.

But Brown doesn’t flaunt how much he’s donated, and it’s difficult to try to add it up.

Some of Brown’s philanthropy includes: buying city licenses for children who want to sell snacks at Frontier Days; buying animals each year at the 4-H Livestock Sale and gifting them to local charities; buying thousands of dollars worth of bus tokens to provide to riders on the Cheyenne Transit city bus service; donating money to high school athletics programs; and donating to countless organizations.

Brown cares deeply for Cheyenne and Wyoming, and credits the region for helping him be successful.

“We have quality people in Wyoming, and I’m proud to be one of them,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to be anyplace else.”

2015 – Mona Pearl

Mona Pearl is a Cheyenne businesses woman who has dedicated herself to public service since arriving here.

It’s hard to overstate the sheer breadth of Mona’s involvement since coming to Cheyenne in 1991.

Presenting the award, WTE President and Publisher L. Michael McCraken described the multitude of organizations Pearl has lent her experience to through the years.

“Shortly after coming to Cheyenne, Mona became involved with the United Way of Laramie County, serving as a board member, a loan executive and a recruiter for pacesetter companies, which are instrumental in kicking off the annual fundraising drive,” McCraken said. “She served as campaign chairwoman in 2003, a year which saw record donations at the time, and she continues to help United Way with strategic planning.”

Upon claiming her award, Pearl stressed the need to continue to support local nonprofits in the work they do, which she said is the true benchmark for progress in a community. “The way we get forward in the world is not because banks do the right thing, although they do, and not because we have businesses that keep moving forward and moving into Wyoming and Cheyenne,” Pearl said. “But it’s because we take care of our people, and that’s the work of our nonprofits, by and large.

So it’s been an honor for me to get to be involved with a number of those nonprofits, and more important

2014 – Greg Dyekman

A Cheyenne attorney whose life-long passion for civic service was kindled by his early participation in the Boy Scouts has been selected as the 2014 Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s Community Spirit Award recipient.

Dyekman said his membership in Boy Scout Troop 101 really laid the foundation for his commitment to community service.

He joined the troop as a teenager, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout and was later involved with the Explorers. He has helped to raise money to support the Scouting program, and since 1998 has served on the board of trustees of the Longs Peak Council of the Boy Scouts of America. In 2006 he was the Distinguished Citizen honoree for the Cheyenne district.

In recent years he has been very active with the University of Wyoming, particularly on the foundation, where he has served on the foundation board since 2003 and is a past chairman, and since 2012 has been an emeritus member.

Dyekman was a founding member of UW’s College of Law Dean’s Advisory Board in 2002 and still serves on the board. Since 1997, he has served on UW’s College of Arts & Sciences Board of Visitors, and is a former chairman of the group.

He has been an avid supporter and fundraiser for the Cheyenne Symphony Orchestra, and has served on its board and is a past president.

Dyekman served as a loaned executive for United Way of Laramie County starting in 2003, was campaign co-chairman in 2009 and remains on its board of directors. He has also served on the Meals on Wheels foundation board, including two terms as president.

He has been a member of the Cheyenne Kiwanis Club since 1981 and served as a board member for the club and its foundation. Dyekman also served on the Cheyenne Family YMCA board as president in 1992 and 1993. He also helped to raise funds for the Davis Hospice Center.

Since 2005, Dyekman has served on the board of Cheyenne Newspapers Inc., and since 2012 he has also served on the board of directors for Cheyenne LEADS.

Dyekman is an ordained Elder and Deacon of the First Presbyterian Church.He also serves as a volunteer consultant for governance and endowment issues for the Cheyenne Little Theatre board of directors, Cheyenne Animal Shelter Foundation, Meals on Wheels Foundation, Laramie County Library Foundation and United Way.

He is long-time member of the Young Men’s Literary Club of Cheyenne and was in the 2003 class of Leadership Wyoming.

Starting his career as a law clerk in 1979 he is now a senior partner in Dray, Dyekman, Reed & Healey, P.C.

Those who know Dyekman well are hard-pressed to remember him ever saying a bad word about anyone else, or to complain about anything.

“I never saw people who were negative accomplish much,” he said. “People who were positive really got the results.“

2013 – Marietta Dinneen

Marientta Trowbridge Dinneen whose love of history helped create one of the country’s largest and best-preserved collections of horse-drawn carriages is the recipient of the 2013 of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s Community Spirit Award.

Dinneen was a newlywed and a University of Wyoming graduate with a home economics degree when she moved to Cheyenne in 1951 with her husband, the late William J. Dinneen, Jr.

Marietta’s love of Western history played a pivotal role in the development of the Old West Museum and its nationally recognized carriage and wagon collection.

Dinneen, who taught home economics classes at Carey Junior High in the 1960s and 1970s, was invited to join the W-Heels organization in 1966. The group of women volunteers assists with the Cheyenne Frontier Days celebration by staging the historic vehicle portion of the downtown parades.

Dinneen said when she joined the W-Heels, many of the 67 carriages in the collection at that time were heavily weathered and run down. The best of the lot would only receive enough repair and maintenance to make them parade-worthy. As part of the Carriage Coordinating Committee, Dinneen and her fellow volunteers knew where some of the carriages had come from and through interviews and research they began documenting the history of the carriages.

In 1971, Dinneen’s husband, William, who was parade committee chairman, and the late Sharon Farthing Tuck, W-Heels president, created a group of volunteers called the Wagon Doctors to restore and maintain the collection. As their knowledge and expertise grew, the volunteers were able to restore selected vehicles to excellent condition.

In 1977, the volunteers received a major shot in the arm with the donation of 16 rare carriages from a collection which had been owned by the late Lawrence C. Phipps of Denver. In the spring of 1978, CFD officials said they wanted a place to house the two growing collections, owned by CFD and the museum. Dinneen became one of the founding members of the board of directors for the museum.

Dinneen was also involved in the Carriage Association of America and the National Stagecoach and Freight Wagon Association.

The museum and CFD now have 160 vehicles in their jointly managed collection, 59 of which are regularly used in the annual parades. Dinneen said she has three favorites: the Cheyenne-Deadwood Stagecoach, used in the Charlie Irwin Wild West Show around the turn of the century and which represented Wyoming in the 1976 Bicentennial parade in Philadelphia; an ambulance used by St. John’s, Cheyenne’s first hospital, and the Carey mail wagon, brought here by Joseph M. Carey and one of only four known to exist.

When Dinneen was president of the board in 1989, the museum received a major financial donation, the gift allowed for a large expansion of the exhibit space.

In addition to the museum, in past years Dinneen served on the DePaul Hospital Guild and was on the Laramie County Community College Foundation board when the college successfully sought a bond issue for its first dormitory. In 1989, she was named woman of the year by the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce.

Since 1954 she has also been involved in community improvement projects through Women’s Civic League, and is a past president of that organization.

But it is obvious that she holds a special place in her heart for the museum and its carriage collection. That history will be passed on to future generations, including her own family. Dinneen has two sons and daughters-in-law, Jim and Ray and John and Eileen, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

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.”

2011 – James L. Applegate

Cheyenne Attorney James L. Applegate has devoted more than 50 years of his life volunteering in many areas of the community, but those who know him well say he has never once sough praise for himself.

Applegate graduated from Torrington High School in 1949, received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in political science from the University of Notre Dame in 1953 and graduated from the University of Wyoming’s College of Law in 1958. While at Notre Dame, Applegate served in the U.S. Marine Corps reserves. He was later commissioned as a first lieutenant and served in active duty from 1953-55.

He was Cheyenne’s assistant city attorney from 1959-62 and subsequently became involved in numerous local civic organizations. Applegate has been a member of the Rotary Club of Cheyenne since 1968 and served as president in 1981 and 1982.

He was on the State Board of Law Examiners from 1979-88 and served as president from 1983-88. Applegate served on the Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities from 1979-91, and was president from 1984-91.

He served as a board member for the Wyoming Community Development Authority from 1988-96 and is a past member of the Cheyenne Urban Renewal Advisory Committee, which sought federal funds to redevelop blighted commercial areas of the city.

Applegate is especially proud with his volunteer service as a trustee for St. Joseph’s Children’s Home in Torrington. He has a special affinity for the residential youth treatment center, since he grew up in Torrington and had friends and fellow Boy Scout troop members who lived at what was then St. Joseph’s Orphanage. Applegate attained the rank of Eagle Scout.

He served for 12 years on the Wyoming Retirement System Board and was chairman from 2005-06 and served as Senate minority floor leader in 1995-96 and also was on several legislative committees. He also served on the board for the Wyoming Transportation Museum Corporation for the building.

Applegate also has been very active in Cheyenne Frontier Days Contestants Committee for 33 years and was inducted into the CFD Heels in 1970. He also was involved with the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce was named the chamber’s Person of the Year in 1988.

Applegate was a director for the Cheyenne Symphony Foundation from 1992-2006. He also has served on the boards of Cheyenne LEADS and the CFD Old West Museum, among other organizations.

Applegate has enjoyed being a driver for Meals on Wheels since 2008. He has belonged to the Young Men’s Literary Club since 1989 and has served as a trustee for St. Mary’s Cathedral from 1969-2003 and has been active in the Catholic Church in many capacities.