By Leo Wolfson, State Political Reporter
One would almost always expect to see the friendly face of Clarene Law in the office behind the front desk of the Antler Inn motel in Jackson. If she wasn’t in her office, she could often be found driving around Jackson in her emerald green 1976 Cadillac.
Law, 89, died Wednesday at St. John’s Health in Jackson.
She was more than an owner of the Antler. A self-made millionaire, Law oversaw about 400 rooms, also owned Jackson’s other Town Square Inns and co-owned a hotel in Lander with State Senator Cale Case, and served in the Wyoming Legislature for 13 years.
Case, R-Lander, said Law’s kind demeanor and ability to make friends on both sides of the aisle are what he will remember most from his time in the Legislative Assembly.
“Everyone loved him,” Case said. “There was no one who would call her an enemy. She closed the gap in a huge way.
Longtime lobbyist Jonathan Downing said he first met Law when he was a page at Wyoming House in the early 1990s and was struck by his kindness to everyone, especially those who disagreed with her.
“She set a standard for decorum and polite civil manners when dealing with difficult issues,” Downing said.
Law bought the Antler in 1962, a time when women owned businesses less often. During a 2019 podcast interview with Wyoming Humanities, she talked about how important it is for her to have a positive influence on other women as a business owner.
“Everyone wants to be on top of the mountain, but you can’t get there all at once,” she says. “You must know that someone threw a rope at you along the way.
“I want to be someone who can be that rope. I think that’s what women can do to help others – to show that it’s possible in a difficult environment. Provide a positive environment for young women.
She also served as a member of the Legislative Assembly from 1991 to 2004 and served on Jackson’s first zoning commission, its local school board, and several state tourist boards.
During his 2019 interview, Law said protocol and respect were the two biggest changes to the Legislative Assembly since his time there.
“Respect process, civility and respect for each other,” Law said. “I think there is a decrease in that respect for both parties.”
A center-right Republican, Law chaired the Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee and established the Culture Trust Fund with the late Cody Sen. Hank Coe.
“It felt so good,” she said. “I am so proud of the Cultural Trust. »
Law told Wyoming Humanities that she is an immigration reform advocate and loves the visa workers she employs like family.
She won a Lifetime Achievement Award from Wyoming Business Report and Wyoming Women of Influence, Wyoming Business Person of the Year and Jackson Hole Citizen of the Year. She is also inducted into the Wyoming Business Hall of Fame.
“She was particularly sensitive to how Wyoming operated and Teton County operated. She did it so well,” Case said.
Senate Majority Leader Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, said he’s known Law since he was in high school.
“I attended my first state Republican convention in 1974 and we’ve been close ever since,” Driskill told the Cowboy State Daily.
“Clarene made the sun shine on Wyoming,” he said, noting that he had never heard her speak ill of anyone.
He said that in 1990, when Wyoming was celebrating its centennial, the state did not purchase enough free gold coins for those attending the celebration.
Because state officials weren’t going to make up for the lack of coins, Law bought them herself so no one would go away empty-handed.
Gold was selling for $800 an ounce, so it was not a cheap buy.
He said his wife Zannie always wears one of these pieces around her neck.
“It’s a precious commodity,” Driskill said.
Case recalled how Law, a deeply devoted member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offered her free tickets for booze at a particular event.
Law sat across from Case when he began his first stint in the Legislative Assembly in 1993. Less than two years later, they became business partners, opening The Inn at Lander together.
They have remained partners through good times and bad, keeping the company afloat through recessions and personal struggles. Law sold his stake in the company in 2021, but was still working at the Antler just 10 days ago when Case’s son and mother stopped by and saw her.
According to the Jackson Hole News and Guide, her son, Steve Meadows, said his mother “meant so much to the community over the decades because she gave so much.”
“She passed away peacefully with her loved ones all around her,” Meadows said. “We were honored to have had her as a mother, grandmother, friend.”
Debbie Pummel, a longtime leader of Wyoming’s tourism industry and regional sales manager for Safari Timberline Hospitality, said she planned to visit Law on her next trip to Jackson. She has known her since 1995.
“I admired her for many different reasons, but primarily for the instrumental role she played in the Wyoming hospitality industry,” Pummel said.
Pummel worked with Law while she was chair of the Travel, Recreation and Wildlife Committee and has always attended the Governor’s annual tourism conference each year.
As a lawmaker, Pummel said Law was always optimistic but firm in what she stood for.
“She’s an amazing woman,” she said.