Former Vice President Dick Cheney Visits Star Valley Temple

Contributed By Julie Dockstader Heaps, Church News contributor

  • AFTON, WYOMING

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, center, greets McKell W. Allred, new president of the Star Valley Wyoming Temple, on the grounds of the edifice on Thursday prior to a special tour of what will be the Church’s 154th operating temple, the first in Wyoming.  Photo by Julie Dockstader Heaps.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney visited The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ new Star Valley Wyoming Temple here Thursday, part of a special entourage of visitors given a tour of the new edifice prior to the start of the public open house.

Joining the former vice president was Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, who was accompanied by other elected officials flying into Afton’s small airport for the special guest tour conducted by Elder Larry Y. Wilson, General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Church’s Temple Department.

Cheney, who served under Republican President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2009 and also served as a U.S. Congressman from Wyoming, called the temple—the Church's 154th operating temple but the first in the state—“enormously important.”

He called it a “historic day, even for those of us who are not members of the LDS Church. It’s a magnificent testimony to the faith of the people of this part of Wyoming.”

After the tour, he told the Deseret News, “My wife [Lynne] is descended from Mormon stock, and we have a history that she had two great-great-grandmothers who went west in that early period in the early 1850s.

Elder Larry Y. Wilson, left, General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Church’s Temple Department, greets former Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday at the doors of the new Star Valley Wyoming Temple. The former vice president was joining a special entourage of government officials to tour the edifice prior to the start of the public open house. Photo by Julie Dockstader Heaps.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, right, visits with Elder Larry Y. Wilson, General Authority Seventy and Executive Director of the Church’s Temple Department, after touring the new Star Valley Wyoming Temple on Thursday. They visited together for several moments inside a tented visitors’ center before embarking to an LDS meetinghouse south of the temple for a special luncheon. Photo by Julie Dockstader Heaps.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney emerges from the new Star Valley Wyoming Temple, with western hat in hand, along with Elder Larry Y. Wilson, General Authority Seventy, after touring the new edifice in Afton. The new temple will serve LDS Church members in western Wyoming and parts of southeast Idaho. Photo by Julie Dockstader Heaps.

“So we have had an interest [in the history], but this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to visit a temple, and it’s a magnificent building. It really is.”

After emerging from the temple, Elder Wilson led the entourage, which also included religious, academic, and community leaders, to a visitors’ tent, where they mingled near a smaller replica of the Christus statue. For several moments, he and the former vice president stood visiting on the warm fall afternoon.

“We had a marvelous experience with governmental, community leaders, and religious leaders in the temple today,” Elder Wilson said. “They were very moved by the beauty of the temple. I think they felt the great spirit of it, and they could see why we believe this is one of the greatest things to ever happen in the history of Star Valley.”

Pausing for a few moments on the grounds of the temple, which will serve LDS Church members in western Wyoming and parts of southeast Idaho, Mead agreed that the new edifice is “absolutely beautiful, beyond I think many expectations. Flying in this morning, seeing this beautiful facility here is tremendous, but even beyond that, what it means to the state of Wyoming to have a first LDS temple.

“This is significant not only for those of the LDS faith but also for the entire state because we recognize what it means to support families, to have strong families. That is a benefit to all of us in Wyoming, whether of the LDS faith or not.”

At a luncheon afterward at an LDS meetinghouse on Highway 89 just south of the temple, Elder Wilson thanked the former vice president and the Wyoming government officials for their service to their state and communities. Then, President Mark Taylor, president of the Afton Wyoming Stake and chairman of the temple open house and dedication committee, presented the governor with a framed display of his five family generations.

In turn, Mead delighted the crowded room by announcing a gift to the LDS Church of a Mormon handcart found in a barn at his ranch near Cheyenne.

The governor said after the luncheon that he doesn’t know how long the handcart had been on his ranch, known as the Boswell Ranch, named for a county sheriff from Wyoming’s history.

“But Carol [his wife] and I believe in our hearts that the Church should have it. We both just thought it is something that belongs with this church and is part of the history and the culture.”

The handcart, which Mead said is in need of restoring, will be presented at a later time.

Also at the luncheon, among local church and community leaders, were former Utah state Senator Michael G. Waddoups and his wife, Anna Kay Nield Waddoups, who was reared in Afton; and President Clark G. Gilbert of BYU–Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho, and his wife, Christine.

The public open house of the Star Valley Wyoming Temple began Friday, September 23, and runs through October 8, except for September 24–25 and October 1–2. For free tickets, go to tickets.lds.org.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney greets Sister Katelyn Swanger, center, and Sister Heather McKendrick of the Utah Salt Lake City East Mission as he arrives on the grounds of the Star Valley Wyoming Temple for a special tour. Sister missionaries from the region are serving during the public open house, which began Friday, September 23. Photo by Julie Dockstader Heaps.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, left, greets Elder Larry Y. Wilson, Executive Director of the Church’s Temple Department, upon arriving at the new Star Valley Wyoming Temple. The governor was joined by former Vice President Dick Cheney and other government officials for a special tour of the new edifice on Thursday. Photo by Julie Dockstader Heaps.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, left, with Elder Larry Y. Wilson, General Authority Seventy, walk together on the grounds of the new Star Valley Wyoming Temple after a special tour of the edifice, which will be the 154th operating temple of the Church but the first in Wyoming. Photo by Julie Dockstader Heaps.