Thoman represents ranching womenWritten by Saige Albert
“A role model, mentor and a genuine leader, Mary A. ‘Mickey’ Thoman is a Wyoming gal straight out of Western folklore,” says Mickey’s daughter Laurie Thoman. “While life has not always been easy, agriculture is in her blood, and she has faced tough elements produced by both Mother Nature and Uncle Sam.”
Mickey was selected as an inductee for the 2014 Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame as a result of her continued dedication to the agriculture world and service to the cattle industry through the years.
“Her grit, determination, love and commitment to her family and ranching have overshadowed everything else, which makes her a prominent candidate for the Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame,” Laurie adds.
Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President and rancher Jim Magagna comments, “I have had the privilege to know Mickey for over 40 years. I have witnessed her responses to personal tragedy and business challenges, as well as family joy and business success. She brings the same unwavering guiding principles of determination and continuing commitment to every event that life places in her path.”
On the ranch
Mickey’s children emphasize that, under their mother’s guidance, they developed a love of agriculture, a strong work ethic and traditional values.
Even today, Mickey manages the daily operations of the fifth generation family ranching business in the Green River Valley below Fontenelle Reservoir.
“We raise fine-wooled Rambouillet sheep, a uniform herd of Hereford cattle and spirited Thoroughbred-Quarter horses,” explains Laurie. “As matriarch of the family, Mickey plays a major role in managing the budget, paying the bills, keeping payroll updated, riding during gathering, milking cows and feeding bum lambs.”
Even after the loss of her husband in 1998, Mickey continues to persevere and thrive in the ranching lifestyle.
“Retirement is not in her vocabulary,” says Laurie of her mother. “In her 84 years, life has never been dull for Mickey, as she is always excited about what is going on around her. She is living the life she loves.”
The community recognizes Mickey as a matriarch and ranch woman.
“Mickey always maintained her focus on the ranch and family, knowing that it isn’t always pleasant or romantic,” writes Rock Springs Veterinarian Paul Zancanella. “She has taken the 19th and 20th century and molded it with the 21st century with the new technology and has maintained her legacy for her family.”
Magagna adds that Mickey embodies the description of a matriarch and has brought the tradition into the 21st century.
On the ranch, Mickey has been recognized in a number of different venues.
“In 2004, the Thoman Ranch received the Bureau of Land Management Director’s 4Cs Award for consultation, cooperation and communication all in the service of conservation,” says Laurie. “In 2012, the family received a Partnership Appreciation Award from the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative.”
Thoman Ranch was honored in 2013 with the Farm Family Today Award on behalf of the Sweetwater County Fair.
Prior to her husband’s death, Mickey and Bill received the Sweetwater County Ranch Couple of the Year in 1988 and Upper Green River Valley Cattlemen’s Lifetime Honorary Member Award in 1997.
Mickey was Green River Valley Ranch Woman of the year in 2012, as well.
In the community
Life off the ranch is just as important for Mickey.
“Mickey has served our agricultural communities for over 50 years,” adds Zancanella.
The importance of education on Thoman Ranch is emphasized in the Thoman Ranch School, which was developed by Mickey and her late husband Bill in 1957. The school allowed youth to stay on the ranch and obtain an education while instilling strong values, responsibility and work ethic, describes Laurie.
Mickey was also a founding member of the Green River Valley CattleWomen and was instrumental in organizing the Sweetwater County Cowbelles.
In her younger days, Mickey held the title of “Days of ‘47” rodeo queen in 1947 in Kemmerer, also passing that tradition on to her daughters.
On top of her other efforts, Mickey has served as head election judge in Sweetwater County for nearly 30 years.
She also has served as a 4-H leader for many years. Mickey was honored as a 50-year 4-H leader in 2011, racking up 53 years of service this year.
Her involvement in numerous statewide organizations is also important. She has served in the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, the Guardians of the Grasslands, Wyoming Farm Bureau, American Quarter Horse Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American Sheep Industry Association, Wyoming CattleWomen and Wyoming Woolgrower’s Associations.
“Her enthusiasm and willingness to serve as a key leader has never faltered,” adds Laurie. “Mickey symbolizes the true image of western values and traditions. She is one of a kind and held in the highest regard by those who know her, her sprit, her integrity and her determination. She is what western legends are made of.”
Along with Mickey, Converse County rancher Frank Moore will be inducted into the 2014 Wyoming Agriculture Hall of Fame. Thoman and Moore will be recognized at the annual Agriculture Hall of Fame Picnic on Aug. 13. The picnic is held at Riverside Park in Douglas beginning at 5:30 p.m.