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Mr. President, it is with a great deal of sadness that Senator Barrasso, Representative Lummis and I inform our colleagues that we have lost one of our good friends and a former member of this body, Clifford P. Hansen. Cliff Hansen passed away on Tuesday night at the age of 97.  His was in every sense, a truly remarkable life. He was a man to match his mountains. He came from the shadow of the Tetons. If you’ve even been there you know that when God made the Alps he had a couple left over and he took the biggest ones and he put them in Wyoming. And that’s where Jackson is.

Times like these always draw me to the words of The Bible which remind us that “to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”  So it is with us all.  Each role we play, each task we are called to perform is another time for us, another season in our lives.

As has often been said, Cliff Hansen was Wyoming through and through, a favorite son of the West, who knew and understood our Western way of life better than anyone else.  He knew it because he lived it, and he lived it each and every day.

Cliff Hansen lived most of his life in the Jackson Hole area. All of his life except for the time that he was providing public service. He was born near the base of the Tetons and he lived a life in which he stood as tall and proud in his support of Wyoming as those magnificent mountains. 

His parents were homesteaders and from them he learned the importance of working hard for what you believe in and always giving your best.  It was a philosophy that suited him well. 

A lot of people don’t know that as a child he was a stutterer but he had a phenomenal teacher that worked with him with rocks in his mouth. He attributed his success at oratory to her help those years.

A rancher by profession, Cliff spent the early part of his life working the land and learning to appreciate what a tremendously important resource it was.  For him, the land was a precious gift, a legacy that helped him establish himself as a rancher.  As he tended the land, he was also working on the local level to address the issues of the day.  While that kind of success would have been enough for some, it wasn’t enough for Cliff Hansen.  Determined to find something else he could do to help make a difference he soon found his way toward a run for public office.

He was a county commissioner. And, as a part of that season, he served as Wyoming’s Governor.  There was a lot to be done, so Cliff rolled up his sleeves and got right to the tasks at hand.  To help the young people of our state, Cliff worked to lower the voting age from 21 to 18.  To make life a little easier for our senior citizens, he supported increasing retirement pay for state employees.  To help the next generation of our state’s leaders, he worked to increase funding for our schools and our education system.

At that point, Cliff could have called it a day and returned to the ranch to sit back and enjoy reminiscing about all he’d accomplished.  Once again, it wasn’t enough for Cliff.  He still had some good ideas and an interest in getting things done.  That great heart of his just wouldn’t let him quit.  So, it was back to the campaign trail and an offer he once again made to the people of Wyoming to serve them once again – and begin another season in his life.   This one resulted in a run for the Senate and the defeat of a very popular Democrat on the way, Teno Roncalio. 

In the Senate, Cliff served on the Veterans Affairs Committee, the Finance Committee and the Special Committee on Aging.  At each post and at every opportunity Cliff always had his eye on Wyoming and how he could best be of service to the people back home.  He focused on issues like reservoir projects, recreation and wilderness areas, and making sure we were good stewards of the federal treasury and kept spending under control.

He also made a major change for Wyoming. In the early days the state’s got about 37.5 percent royalty on minerals and he was able to raise that, with the help of a lot of his fellow senators working across the aisle, to 50 percent. When he got that passed, it was at a time when Gerald Ford was president and the chief of staff was a Wyoming boy called Dick Cheney. And Dick Cheney had to initiate a call to Cliff Hansen and let him know that the president had some bad news for him. At that point, Dick Cheney put President Ford on the phone and the president said, “I’ve got some bad news for you, Cliff. I’m going to have to veto that bill.” And Cliff Hansen said, “I’ve got some bad news for you. I’m going to find the votes to override it.” And he did. And it’s been a great boon to our state.

While Cliff was serving in the Senate, I was serving as president of the Wyoming Jaycees.  Diana and I were in Washington to meet with him in the Senate Dining room for breakfast.  It was a great thrill for Diana and me to have a chance to meet with a United States Senator.  We will never forget how it was to be in that dining room with this good person who turned out to be a trusted and valued friend. It was also my first encounter with grits – which I found taste just like the name suggests.

Although Cliff had every reason to be proud of what he had achieved at every stage of his life, he would always be the first to say that he could never have done it alone.  Fortunately, he didn’t have to do that for when he returned to Jackson Hole after graduating from college he married a very special woman, Martha. Now I’m going to tell you her dad was a little bit skeptical. He said, “This guy comes from a valley that’s known as a safe harbor for horse thieves.” It happened. It stuck. And they started a wonderful love story that forever. It’s an old adage that love is stronger than anything that comes to us in life.  Cliff and Martha will forever be great examples of that and a story of life and love that lasted 75 years.

Diana and I always enjoyed seeing them together, for they were the epitome of a great marriage.  Cliff had such a warm, engaging personality.  He was full of life and he had a smile that reflected the genuine happiness and contentment he had found in his life and his family.  Martha, by his side, was a kind and gracious woman.  With her support and encouragement, Cliff had a tremendous asset to his life and his political career.

She also helped to keep him grounded. I remember one of the stories that he often told of coming back from one of the Washington-type gala events where he had been presented an award as legislator of the year. One of 535 people to receive this award. And as he’s driving home, he was reflecting and saying, “Martha, how many truly recognized people are there in this world?” And she quickly said, “One less than you think.” It’s a lesson that he always kept. And I’m pleased with the number of calls and things that we’ve had from former staff members. Brent Kuntz served on his staff as counsel mentioned the kindness he always had knowing the people that worked at the doors and elevators and at the time there were a lot that worked in the elevators. One time he was waiting outside the chamber door to come for a vote and he was worried that the vote would run out and he went looking for him and found that he was helping a lady in a wheelchair up some of the steps so that she could get into the building. Just the kind of way that he would go out of his way to help out.

When I arrived in the Senate, Cliff and Martha became role models for Diana and me.  They blazed a trail together and we learned a great deal from watching how they did it. 

Diana and I weren’t the only ones who learned from Cliff.  One thing that so many of us will always remember about him was his love for teaching the next generation about Wyoming’s heritage in our land -- our agricultural industry -- an aspect so important to our state’s economy that it is noted on our state seal. 

Cliff was very proud of the training arena that was established at his alma mater, the University of Wyoming, in his name.  He went there often to visit the College of Agriculture and meet with its students.  Cliff knew full well that the future of our state would be measured by how well we took care of our state’s land and he was determined that those who were to follow would have a sense of the great responsibility with which they had been entrusted.

Cliff understood the importance of everything he had been given in life from the greatest of resources to the smallest of everyday things.  I remember hearing a story from his grandson. But I can’t tell it as well as his grandson but I’m going to make an attempt anyway. He was doing something called “straightening nails” with his grandson and some of his grandson’s friends. Now for those of you that don’t know about straightening nails. You take a nail that bent that you pulled out of some piece of wood. And as you pull it, you bend it. And he had a coffee can full of those and he had an empty coffee can. And he’d take one of the bent nails, put it on a board and tap it with a hammer. And then examine it to see if it was straight. Hi grandson and the other boys that were there said, “Why are you doing all that work? Why don’t you just go buy some new nails?” And he said, “How much is this costing me?” The answer is nothing. Well, while he was doing this, tapping away on these nails, Martha came to the door of their house and said, “You’ve got a call, Cliff. You’ve got a call on the telephone here.” And he kept tapping away on the nails and tapping away on the nails. And pretty quick she came back and said, “Cliff! It’s the President of the United States!” So he got up and he went in the house and took the phone call. A few minutes later he was back out there tapping away on the nails, tapping away on the nails. His grandson was excited and wanted to know what all that was about. And asked him, “What did the president want?” And Cliff said, “The president wanted me to be secretary of the interior.” Tap tap tap. Tap tap tap. “I said no.” Tap tap tap. Tap tap tap. A man who knew what he wanted to do and what he needed to do. And could be totally absorbed in whatever he was doing.
There are a lot of stories like that one.  Cliff cherished the simpler days and simpler ways of life.  He also appreciated the benefits that would come with technology and innovation and how they would improve cattle and crop production. 

Technology and innovation, however, could never replace the basic ideals of working hard, being of good character, and always keeping your word.  Those were things that could never be compromised.  He has left us all with a great legacy that will continue to inspire and encourage others to follow the path he leaves behind.

Now, with the passing of Cliff Hansen, the political landscape and everyday life in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the West and the United States has changed.  Wyoming has been blessed to have enjoyed a great history full of remarkable and colorful leaders in every sense of the word who have helped to settle this nation, tame the West and bring the United States to the position of greatness and power it enjoys today.  We owe a lot to the great people of our past, like Cliff Hansen.  Thanks to them, our nation and the world is a better place for us all to live.

Now this season of his life has also come to an end.  The time he was born and has led to this time when he has died.  Everyone who knew him will carry with them a special memory of his life and how the experience of knowing Cliff changed them forever – for the better.  He was a great gift in our lives, and the lives of people all across the country who may have never known him, but enjoyed the benefits of his labors. His great calling was to be a teacher and he taught us all a great deal about life by how he lived his own.  So much of my state bears his mark for his having passed by.  He will be greatly missed for who and what he was.  He will never be forgotten for what he accomplished during his 97 years of life.

Diana and all the Enzi’s and our delegation send our deepest sympathy, our great appreciation and our love to Martha and to all of the family.  You will be in our thoughts and prayers.