SHERIDAN, Wyo. — State Sen. John Schiffer, of Kaycee, died Thursday just a few weeks after being diagnosed with liver cancer. He was 68.
Laci Schiffer, who is Schiffer's daughter-in-law, said the longtime Republican legislator died at his home. Funeral arrangements are pending, she said.
State Rep. Rosie Berger, R-Big Horn and a close friend of Schiffer's family, said Schiffer was diagnosed with liver cancer at the end of May.
"We're very shocked," Berger said in a telephone interview. "They thought he had pneumonia this spring ... and then he wasn't getting any better and he went in and they diagnosed May 31st or May 30th that he had liver cancer."
Gov. Matt Mead said Schiffer possessed true common sense and a love for the state.
"He was a cowboy, a statesman and an advocate for making this state a better place," Mead said in a statement. "...As a person, as a legislator, as a statesman his legacy will benefit Wyoming for generations to come."
Mead ordered that the state be lowered to half-staff at the Capitol and in Johnson and Sheridan counties to honor Schiffer.
State Treasurer Mark Gordon, another family friend and business partner of Schiffer's, said Wyoming has lost "one of our great, great warriors for the state."
Schiffer, whose death was first reported by KROE radio in Sheridan, had represented District 22 in Johnson and Sheridan counties since 1993. He was president of the Senate in 2007-08 and Senate Majority Floor Leader in 2006-07.
He was currently serving as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee after winning re-election unopposed in 2012.
A rancher by trade, Schiffer was born in Chadron, Nebraska. He and his wife, Nancy, had two children.
Local Republican Party officials will nominate three people for the Johnson and Sheridan county commissions to consider as a replacement to fill out the two remaining years on Schiffer's term.