Equality State first lady Jennie Gordon was kind enough to do a question-and-answer session with me. This is a great opportunity to get to know her on a more personal level. I could tell from her answers that she loves Wyoming.
Q: What is the best part of being first lady of Wyoming?
A: Getting to meet the citizens of Wyoming and understanding all the needs of the different communities.
Q: Any downsides of being first lady?
A: Not really. I probably shouldn’t go to the grocery store in my sweats, but that is a good rule of thumb for anyone.
Q: Are you Wyoming born and raised?
A: No, I was born at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, where my dad was stationed. Dad was also stationed in Casper in 1956 and Buffalo in 1958, where my brother and sister were born. We vacationed every year for a month in Buffalo, camping in the mountains, since I was a baby. When Dad retired in 1980 and moved to Buffalo, I moved there for one summer and never left. I graduated from University of Wyoming in 1985.
Q: How did you meet your husband, Gov. Gordon? Tell us about your courtship.
A: I met Mark cross-country skiing in the Big Horns. I was with a friend, who was his daughter Anne’s teacher. She was cold, so we took her to the lodge so she could warm up. When Mark and the other kids came to get her we ordered lunch and all sat together.
I was the one who asked him out first for a ski date. He was two hours late, and I was done skiing. He said he was sorry and would buy me a cup of coffee if I would do another route with him. I did but didn’t get the cup of coffee because we both had kiddos to pick up. I would say dating with four kids, ages 7 to 13 was like serving on a hazard duty station.
We never forced the family thing. We just put our kids first, and they all get along.
Q: Please tell us about your children.
A: We have four grown kids. Aaron, who is married to Megan, lives in Bozeman, Montana. Spencer, who is married to Sarah, and our grandson, Everett, live in Cheyenne. Bea is engaged to Austen, and they live in Reno, Nevada, where she is getting her Ph.D. in hydrology. Anne lives in New York City and does marketing for Broadway plays.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish as first lady?
A: I have four main things I will always support: the military, agriculture, children’s issues and my hunger initiative. If folks say, “She supported us,” then I will have accomplished what I set out to do.
Q: You recently launched your initiative. Can you tell us about that?
A: Absolutely — that is my favorite topic to discuss. It is called the Wyoming Hunger Initiative. The mission is simple: to end childhood hunger in Wyoming. One in 6 kids have hunger issues in Wyoming, which is approximately 24,000 kids in the Cowboy State. If that were a city, it would be the fifth largest city, right behind Gillette.
There are so many great people and amazing organizations working on the problem, so rather than reinvent the wheel, I am trying to shine a light on those groups and help them in any way I can. We just rolled out our website, NoHungerWyo.org. We have listed lots of organizations so that folks who need services can find where to go and folks who want to volunteer can find how to go about it. Also, there is a donate key so people can donate to the initiative.
Q: Do you have a favorite book?
A: A recent read, “The Women in the Castle.” It is a World War II story that helped shed light on what my mother must have gone through during the war as a young woman in occupied Austria.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: I have two: “Young Frankenstein” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: Spend time with my family, ski, read, cook.
Q: Do you have a pet peeve?
A: Dishonesty. I always told my kids, “If you always tell me the truth, I will always believe you. If you don’t, I will have a hard time believing anything you say.” Sometimes they told me things I really didn’t want to hear, but they were truthful.
Q: Tell us something about yourself that others might not know.
A: I walked across Scotland this summer — 200 miles.
Q: Any funny stories that you can share?
A: I come from a family of 10. My mother was an only child from Austria, and she spoke German. After she had my older brother, Dad asked her if she wanted more kids, and she said, “Nein!”
Q: Anything else that you wish to share with the readers?
A: I just want to tell them that I am so honored to represent them as the first lady of our great state. This is not a role I ever saw myself in, but I am so proud to be here and want to do the best job for Wyoming.