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Sunset in Sweetwater: In Memory of Activist Attorney Ford Bussart

It was one of our less stellar college moments, that Friday night on Flint Street in Laramie back in the 1960s -- for me, and certainly for somebody who was to become a high-powered lawyer, self-described “social engineer,” legislator, judicial nominee and upstanding community member. Outside in the yard of the house shared by college friends at the University of Wyoming, in full-on party mode and fueled with plenty of alcohol, Ford and I were exchanging inflammatory expletives that I now can’t exactly remember, fists raised, onlookers gathering, and the cops on the way. It all ended well enough, with no actual blows landed, no arrests, and, most importantly, no lingering animosity. I recalled the Flint dustup when I heard the other day that Ford Bussart, high-profile Wyoming attorney and public official, died at age 65. My old college roommate accomplished a lot since those wild UW days and that night when his quick mind and fast words collided with my smart-ass demeanor. It was fittingly feisty, I thought, for a guy who later in life would emerge as a hardcore, fearless and frank advocate for change and civic improvement. The Vietnam War was still going strong after our UW graduation in 1967 and Ford and I went our separate ways, me drafted into the army and Ford, after finishing law school, enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he worked in the military Judge Advocate General Corps. A few years later our paths crossed again, this time in our home towns in Sweetwater County. Ford had just returned to Green River, where he was born, and I was back in my birthplace, Rock Springs, beginning my career in journalism. That was in 1973, just as the energy-fueled boom in the two cities was beginning. Boomtown Syndrome