Fred Parady, Former House Speaker And Wyoming GOP Chairman, Dies

Fred Parady, a former speaker of the Wyoming House and chair of the Wyoming Republican Party, died over the weekend at the age of 69. Former legislators praised Parady as being one of the smartest and hard working people they had ever met.

Leo Wolfson

June 17, 20246 min read

Former Wyoming House Speaker Fred Parady died on Sunday, June 17, 2024.
Former Wyoming House Speaker Fred Parady died on Sunday, June 17, 2024. (Courtesy photo)

There are many things that the state of Wyoming uses that can be attributed to former House Speaker Fred Parady, who died over the weekend.

Parady, who represented Rock Springs, served in the Wyoming House from 1995-2004 and as House Speaker from 2003-2004. He also served as chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party.

Former Senate President Phil Nicholas said Parady was 69 and that his cause of death is unknown, but may be related to a blood clot.

It was Parady who brought legislation to help clean up Wyoming’s “brownfields,” former mining properties like the Amoco Refinery in Casper that are abandoned or underutilized because of known or suspected environmental contamination.

He also can be thanked for Wyoming’s current funding of the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund, bringing a bill in 2003 that invested $21 million in the fund and earmarked its interest for the Business Ready Community Account, which is administered through the Wyoming Business Council.

This account provides Wyoming communities financing for publicly owned infrastructure that serves the needs of businesses and promotes economic development.

“He did some amazing bills during that time,” said former legislator Jeff Wasserburger, who served in the same freshman class of lawmakers as Parady in the House.

Former House Speaker Tom Lubnau said Parady understood the balance of being both tough and compassionate, possessing the “most endearing smile” Lubnau said he’s ever seen.

“He understood what it took to get the job done,” Lubnau said.

Nicholas described Parady as a “legislator’s legislator.” He said Parady played a critical role moving through the capital reconstruction efforts from about 10 years ago as an effort to facilitate better citizen participation in the legislative process because it’s the closest connection between the government and the people.

“He cared immensely about the Legislature, the Legislature as an effective organization,” Nicholas said. “He cared about the civility of the Legislature as an effective body.”

Passionate Approach

Parady moved to Wyoming in the early 1980s after getting his master’s degree in Land Rehabilitation. He went on to work as a manager at the Bridger Coal Co. for 11 years before going to the OCI Wyoming trona mine in Green River.

“He loved telling stories about being underground and how much trona they pulled out,” former Senate President Tony Ross said.

Former House Speaker and Senate President Eli Bebout said he first met Parady when the Rock Springs man was running his first campaign for the Wyoming House in 1994. Sweetwater County at the time was a Democratic stronghold, so Parady had his work cut out to get elected.

“I was really impressed with his knowledge of the issues,” Bebout said. “He worked his tail off to get elected.”

But work he did and today, there are no Democrats representing Sweetwater in the Legislature, a gradual shift Bebout believes was instigated by Parady’s election.

Bebout ended up choosing Parady to serve as chairman of committees over legislators with more experience because of his talent.

Ross was the best man in Parady’s wedding to his wife Lisa Skiles-Parady. He described Parady as a lighthearted and a family man, a father to four daughters.

Like Ross, he also wasn’t afraid to cry in public, and would often get emotional when speaking on the House floor.

Highly Intelligent

What may have struck Ross and other legislators most about Parady was his knack for memorizing statistics and understanding numbers.

“He was probably the smartest person I’ve ever had to work with,” Nicholas said. “A human sponge with an IQ off the charts.”

Parady joined the Legislature at a time when the state was struggling through a long bust cycle. Toward the end of his service, the state’s financial picture improved, but Parady always kept the frugal lessons he learned during those lean years with him.

Nicholas said Parady was always thinking decades down the road about the impacts of fiscal decisions being made. When mineral revenues started to pick up in the early 2000s, Parady wanted to be there with an answer.

“He was always making sure the Legislature, a central part of government, was always thinking forward 15 years from now,” Nicholas said. “The bills he was proudest of went deep into Wyoming’s future.”

In late 2002, Parady edged out former legislator John Hines for the Speaker role, only by a few votes, Bebout said. Hines, who later went on to become Senate President, also died this year.

Parady also supported the creation of the Hathaway scholarship fund in 2005 and the current per-pupil funding model used by the state for education.

“His intellect and background helped paved the way for how that fund was created,” Nicholas said.

Ross said he, Parady, Nicholas, Wasserburger and later former legislator Colin Simpson became known as a group called the “young Turks,” a rising bunch of younger legislators known for supporting efforts to save and invest money for Wyoming’s future. Their unified presence was critical at a time when Democrats held a larger minority in the Wyoming House and could peel off Republican votes to kill bills.

“He’s the epitome of what good, hard work can do,” Bebout said.

Life After The Legislature

As is tradition for House speakers, Parady stepped down from the House after serving. He then ran for State Treasurer in 2006, bested by Joe Meyer in the Republican primary despite receiving an endorsement from then-treasurer and current U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis at the time. Nicholas said this campaign was centered on driving economic development in local Wyoming communities.

“Fred Parady honorably served the people of Wyoming and was a fierce advocate for conservative principles,” Lummis told Cowboy State Daily. “I wish to extend my deepest condolences to his family and friends during this difficult time and will keep them in my prayers.”

About 18 months later, his wife Skiles-Parady got a job in Alaska and the two moved on to the last frontier.

It wasn’t long before Parady got back into politics.

He worked in education for about four years before becoming executive director of the Alaska Miners Association.

He later became the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Commerce, Community & Economic Development for the State of Alaska, serving as a liaison to the governor’s office. For the last five years, Parady worked as CEO with a for-profit corporation dedicated to spurring economic development for Native American communities in Alaska.

“He loved it,” Nicholas said. “He was really looking at taking tribal economic resources and reinvesting it.”

If there are lessons to be learned from Parady’s life, Nicholas said, it’s to have a big heart, get involved in politics and make a difference in one’s community.

Parady was living in Juneau, Alaska, when he died.

He and Skiles-Parady, a Laramie native, would typically return to Wyoming each year, a visit Bebout, Wasserburger, Nicholas and Ross would also try to attend.

There had been another annual trip on the horizon for this summer, but unfortunately Parady won’t be able to make it back to the state he greatly influenced this time.

“He was a class act and a good guy,” Bebout said. “He will be missed.”

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter