The Sutton Major Issues Lecture is made possible by a generous grant from Sutton Bank.Alan K. Simpson was born September 2, 1931, and is a native of Cody, Wyoming. He is the second son of Milward L. and Lorna K. Simpson. His entire childhood was spent in Cody where he graduated from Cody High School. He entered the University of Wyoming in 1950 and completed his degree, a Bachelor of Science in Law, in 1954. Upon graduation from college, he joined the Army and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant. He was married in the summer of 1954 to the former Ann Schroll of Greybull, Wyoming and was ordered to Fort Benning, Georgia in November of that year. He served overseas in the 5th Infantry Division and in the 2nd Armored Division (Hell on Wheels) in the final months of the Army of Occupation in Germany. Following his honorable discharge in 1956, Al returned to the University of Wyoming to complete his study of law, earning his Juris Doctorate degree in 1958.
After being admitted to the Wyoming Bar and the United States District Court in 1958, and serving for a short time as Wyoming Assistant Attorney General, Al joined his father, Milward L. Simpson, and later Charles G. Kepler, in the law firm of Simpson, Kepler and Simpson in his hometown of Cody. He would practice law there for the next 18 years. During that time, Al was very active in all civic, community and state activities. He also served ten years as City Attorney.
A member of a political family—his father served both as Governor of Wyoming from 1954 to 1958, and as United States Senator from Wyoming from 1962 to 1966—Al chose to follow in his father’s footsteps and began his own political career in 1964 when he was elected to the Wyoming State Legislature as a state representative of his native Park County. He served for the next 13 years in the Wyoming House of Representatives, holding the offices of Majority Whip, Majority Floor Leader and Speaker Pro-Tem.
In 1978, Al ran for, and was elected to, the United States Senate. After a successful first term, he was re-elected in 1984 with 78% of the vote and then again in 1990 to a third term with 65% of the vote. Following his first term in the Senate, Al was elected by his peers to the position of the Assistant Majority Leader in 1984 and served in that capacity until 1994. He completed his final term on January 3, 1997.
From January of 1997 until June of 2000, Al was a Visiting Lecturer and for 2 years, the Director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. During the Fall of 2000 he returned to his Alma Mater, the University of Wyoming, as a Visiting Lecturer in the Political Science Department and continues to part time-team teach a class with his brother, Peter, entitled, “Wyoming’s Political Identity: Its History and Its Politics,” proving to be one of the most popular classes offered at UW.
He is also a partner in the Cody firm of Simpson, Kepler and Edwards, the Cody division of the Denver firm of Burg Simpson Eldredge, Hersh and Jardine, and also a consultant in the Washington D.C. government relations firm, The Tongour, Simpson, Holsclaw Group. He continues to serve on numerous corporate and non-profit boards and travels the country giving speeches on a variety of subjects. His book, Right in the Old Gazoo: A Lifetime of Scrapping with the Press, chronicles his personal experiences and views of the Fourth Estate.
Al and Ann have three children and five grandchildren, all residing in Cody, Wyoming.