Foster Friess, Philanthropist And Businessman, Dies At 81

Foster Friess, a businessman and philanthropist who once sought the office of Wyoming governor, died Thursday at the age of 81.

Jim Angell

May 27, 20213 min read

Foster headshot
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Foster Friess, a businessman and philanthropist who once sought the office of Wyoming governor, died Thursday at the age of 81.

The Wisconsin native and Jackson resident was known as a philanthropist who was once named “Humanitarian of the Year,” donating to a variety of charities as well as contributing to Republican causes.

Friess was born in 1940 in Rice Lake, Wisconsin and attended the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a degree in business administration. He went on to serve in the U.S. Army and in 1965, he began his investment career.

In 1974, Friess launched Friess Associates, an investment management firm, which grew to more than $15.7. billion in assets managed.

CNBC called Foster one of the “century’s great investors” and he was once identified by Forbes as one of the top 10 most successful money managers of his generation.

Friess and his wife Lynn have donated more than $500 million to various causes over the years, leading to his award as “Humanitarian of the Year” at the National Charity Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C. in 2000.

Among the causes supported by Friess were support for towns hit by natural disasters, providing water to remote villages and efforts to suppress ISIS.

In Wyoming, which he made his home in 1992, he was known for his contributions to the University of Wyoming, as well as his donations to multiple charities in the state, at one point donating $5,000 per day to charities and what he called “neighborhood heroes” both inside and outside of the state.

Friess ran for the office of governor in 2018, when he was defeated in the primary by then-state Treasurer Mark Gordon. During that time, he created “Foster’s Outriders,” a political advocacy that promoted transparency in government spending, limited government and other principles Friess thought were important.

He was also involved in the media, helping form the Daily Caller in 2010 with Tucker Carlson and providing the original funding for Cowboy State Daily in 2019.

State officials praised Friess and his wife for his lifetime of philanthropy and commitment to causes important to him.

“Foster Friess was one of a kind businessman, philanthropist and personality,” said U.S. Sen. John Barrasso. “He will be dearly missed. When Foster believed strongly in something or someone, as he often did, he jumped in with both feed and both arms.”

“First and foremost, Foster Friess was a servant of God,” U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis said. “A generous philanthropist, devout Christian, and unwavering patriot, he was dedicated to improving the lives of people around the globe.”

“My prayers and condolences are with the Friess family, in particular his wife of nearly 60 years Lynn and his four children,” said U.S. Rep Liz Cheney. “His love of Wyoming, service to our state, and legacy of philanthropy will never be forgotten. May he Rest In Peace.”

Friess is survived by his wife of 58 years, Lynnette, daughter Traci and her husband Fausto, son Stephen and his wife Polly, son Michael and his wife Fanny and daughter Carrie, 15 grandchildren and a brother and sister-in-law.

Arrangements for services in Jackson, Scottsdale, Arizona, and Rice Lake were being made Thursday.

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Jim Angell