Obituary Details

Andrew "Andy" M. McMaster

(08/19/1896 - 06/11/1986)
Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 06/18/1986

County, state mourn loss of McMaster

Andrew McMaster, 89, one of Niobrara County's most prominent citizens for over 60 years, died Wednesday, June 11 at 9:15 p.m. at Niobrara Memorial Hospital. He had suffered a stroke in October 1985 and was first cared for at the Veterans Hospital in Hot Springs but later moved to Lusk.

Serving in the Wyoming Legislature for 20 years, he rendered great service not only to his county but to the state as a whole and was honored in 1965 by being elected president of the Senate. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1942, served as Republican majority leader in 1949, and completed his term with the 1951 session.

McMaster ran for the Senate in 1952 but was defeated in the Republican primary election by Thomas O. Miller. However, he came back in 1956 to defeat Miller by a large majority in the primary, easily took the general election, and served through the 1965 session. Prior to his gaining the presidency of the Senate, he had served as majority leader and as chairman of various important committees as he had done in the House.

His last term was cut short two years by the Oct. 8, 1965, Federal Court reapportionment that placed Niobrara and Converse counties in a single senatorial district. The legislative session of 1965 had been unable to come to a decision.

Indicative of his conscientious legislative labors was that in January of 1965 before the session opened, he and Niobrara representative James Thompson made a tour of all state institutions on their own and at the own expense. McMaster's Senate presidency was the first time a Niobraran had held office.

He was serving in the House and was in Cheyenne at the time of the historic blizzard of 1949 and was able to help direct relief operations in opening roads and dropping of feed from planes to stranded herds of sheep and cattle. Indeed, his own ranch suffered losses while he legislated.

McMaster first became seriously involved in Republican politics in 1934 when Frank Barrett, then county chairman, urged McMaster to run for county commissioner, but Fred Campbell edged him out in the primary. It was at that time that Barrett encouraged McMaster to change from using his initials, A.W., and go by the name of Andrew so that he would become known at Andy. In 1939, Governor Nels Smith appointed Andy McMaster to the State Board of Agriculture.

In addition to running a cattle and sheep ranch south of Van Tassell, McMaster became one of the original stockholders of the Stockmans National Bank which was established in Lusk, March 28, 1953. He became president in 1965 and was serving in that capacity when the bank was purchased by Wyoming BanCorporation May 1, 1970. He continued as president until 1971 and as chairman of the board of directors until 1978 when he retired to become an advisory member. At the time of his death he was director emeritus.

Born in Nebraska

Andrew McMaster was born August 19, 1896, near St. Paul, NE, the second child of William Allen and Matilda McMaster who had five children. His grandfather was a big, tall Scotchman, his grandmother a short, stocky Irishwoman. His family lived on a small farm in a sod house. The father was an ardent Democrat.

While Andrew was still young, the family moved to northwestern Nebraska, eventually to live on a small ranch near Glen. Andrew worked in stores at Glen and Crawford and later went to Casper, WY where he drove truck for Midwest Refinery.

On June 1, 1918, he volunteered and served in World War I with the 604th Engineers, and as a motorcycle messenger saw action in Argonne Woods, France, and the Meuse Argonne front. He was discharged at Fort D.A. Russell at Cheyenne July 1, 1919.

In 1920, Andrew's father bought the Bushnell store in Van Tassell, and the young veteran worked there and happened to get acquainted with Genevieve McCabe, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander McCabe who ran the drug store and post office. He married Genevieve, Dec. 13, 1920, and they began ranching by leasing the homestead of her parents and working the homestead Genevieve had adjacent to it.

They had one son, Jack who was adopted, having lost one child at birth. It was at Van Tassell that the first American Legion post was organized June 28, 1919. McMaster joined in early 1920 and later became commander.

He was on the Van Tassell district school board for 20 years, a 4-H leader for 10 years. He wrote in his "Memoirs" published in 1966 by Mae Urbanek, "One of the greatest thrills I had for being a Legionnaire was instructing at Girls State in Laramie in 1959, and being director of the 18th annual Boys State in 1965." Every year, Niobrara delegates to these two youth programs came to Andy for instruction and encouragement.

He was a member of the county fair board in the late 20s and chairman during the 40s, and as such encouraged and participated in the production of "The Legend of the Rawhide" pageant that was first presented in 1946 to start a fund for new buildings on the fairgrounds.

Among his activities outside of the county were district president of the American Farm Bureau, member of the executive committees of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and the Wyoming Cooperative Wool Marketing Association.

Andy had a great interest in people of all walks of life and an unusual memory of his associations through the years, as revealed in his "Memoirs." Wherever he was, friends sought his stories and jokes as well as counsel, communicator that he was with youth and old alike.

Clifford F. Hansen, former Governor and U.S. Senator wrote in the introduction of the McMaster "Memoirs" that Andrew McMaster "proved again the value of old virtues: keeping his word, straightforwardness, a willingness to listen, and an awareness of the possibility of right in others."

His first wife, Genevieve, died in October 1964. By February of 1966 he had turned the operation of the ranch over to his son Jack and moved to Lusk to spend full time as president of Stockmans Bank. June 8, 1967, he married Leona Anderson who was a part owner and manager of the J & L Jewelry in Lusk.

In addition to his widow, Leona, he is survived by his son Jack; by three grandchildren, Shaun, Boyd and Lori McMaster; one sister, Gertrude Isbel, Puyallup, WA; two stepdaughters, Tonita and Joe Whiteaker of Harrison, and Sandra and her husband Jim Walter of Hot Springs, SD; and step grandchildren, Greg, Jodi and Jill Whiteaker, and Lesa Walter.

Funeral services were held Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Peet Mortuary with the Rev. Frank Blish, Minister Emeritus of the Congregational Church, officiating.

Gerald Bardo read the story of McMaster's life. Music was by Wanda Hansen as organist and Polly Johnson as vocalist. Pallbearers were Kenneth Gropp, Charles Bruch, Rebel Coffey, Venus Kilmer, James Thompson, and Joe Pfister. Burial was at the Lusk Cemetery after which a reception was held at the Senior Center.

Tributes may be made to the Andrew McMaster Memorial, a part of which will be devoted to financial assistance for delegates going to Girls State and Boys State.

Images & Attachments

Andrew McMaster, Chairman of the Board, 1971
Andy McMaster, 1981
Andy McMaster, 1986
Photo courtesy of Joshua Brackett's Eagle Scout Project

Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary McMaster, John (08/07/1937 - 01/26/2005) View Record
Obituary McCabe, Catherine (11/28/1871 - 01/25/1952) View Record
Obituary McMaster, Genevieve (12/18/1892 - 10/03/1964) View Record
Obituary McMaster, Kara (11/07/1968 - 11/24/1968) View Record
Obituary McMaster, Edgar (04/11/1889 - 02/17/1950) View Record
Obituary McMaster, Loy (11/30/-0001 - 02/06/1953) View Record
Obituary Walter, Jason (06/26/1972 - 06/26/1972) View Record
Obituary McCabe, Alexander (04/07/1851 - 09/24/1936) View Record
Obituary Lange, Richard (04/01/1892 - 05/20/1955) View Record
Obituary Lange, MIldred (04/01/1899 - 05/23/1955) View Record
Obituary Paulsen, Marie (07/07/1890 - 07/25/1979) View Record
Obituary McMaster, Leona (07/11/1922 - 08/02/2018) View Record
Historical Van Tassell, Wyoming View Record
Historical Niobrara County History Series, Part 3 View Record
Historical Niobrara Chamber of Commerce View Record
Historical Van Tassell Ghost Town Article Brings Memories View Record
Historical This Too Shall Pass Away View Record
Historical Van Tassell Legion Post One of First Four in the United States View Record
Historical McMaster, Andrew View Record