Thomas George Kuiper
Aug. 19, 1926 – Jan. 10, 2021
Thomas George Kuiper, former Kaycee rancher and Johnson County resident, passed away on Jan. 10, 2021, in Chandler, Arizona.
Tommy was born on Aug. 19, 1926, at Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie to Thomas and Helen Kuiper while his father was attending summer school at the University of Wyoming. He attended schools in Buffalo and graduated from Johnson County High School in 1944. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 17 and served as a radio controlman on the USS Wadleigh in the Pacific during World War II. He was honorably discharged in 1946. A highlight for Tommy was traveling to Washington DC with the Honor Flight in 2011 with other WWII veterans.
He attended Colorado State University following his years in the service and was a proud Aggie graduating with a degree in range management in 1950. During his college years he was on the CSU Rodeo Team and earned the honor of All Around Cowboy in 1949. The saddle he won is displayed at the CSU Alumni Center in Fort Collins.
Tommy married Velda Jensen in 1947 and after leaving CSU they returned to Wyoming to ranch where his father and aunt homesteaded at Antelope Basin in southern Johnson County, 10 miles north of Kaycee. They began with no money, no livestock, no electricity, no running water and a two-wheel drive pick-up. With a lot of hard work, a good wife, good neighbors and good bankers he built a successful ranching business and raised sheep and cattle for over 32 years. He loved ranch life and being a part of the Kaycee community where he and Velda raised their daughters, Julie and Helen.
He served as president of the Johnson County Wool Growers, president of the Johnson County Rodeo Committee and served on the Johnson County Predatory Animal Board and Johnson County Welfare Board.
Tommy and Velda sold their ranch in 1982 and moved to Story where Tommy pursued his interest in art and golf. He was a member of the Sheridan Artist Guild. The Kuiper’s began splitting their time between their home in Chandler, Arizona and Story and made Chandler their permanent home in 2017. They made many friends in Arizona and kept up with their life-long Wyoming friends.
Tommy was a member of the Kalif Shriners and the Buckskin Horse Patrol. He will be remembered as a man of character, a hardworking cowboy and rancher, a loyal friend, a loving husband and father, a pilot, an artist, a poet, with a quick wit and great sense of humor.
He is survived by his wife of 73 years, Velda, of Chandler, Arizona; daughter Julie and husband Kevan Aegerter of Sun Lakes, Arizona; daughter Helen and husband Rob Gray of Fort Collins, Colorado; grandson Brandon Aegerter of Salt Lake City; granddaughter Libby and husband Marc Brien of Englewood, Colorado; granddaughter Molly and husband Jordan Spight of Windsor, Colorado; three great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, his sister Francis Enabnit, and brother Dave Kuiper.
Memorial gifts can be made to Kalif Shrine Crippled Children Fund, P.O. Box K, Sheridan, WY 82801. No services are planned at this time.