10 Feet Tall and Bulletproof: Cynthia Lummis Honors Her Friend Leland Christensen On Senate Floor
Earlier this month, former Wyoming State Director and Senator Leland Christensen passed away at the age of 62.
Christensen worked for Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis as her State Director, but the two had a friendship that transcended politics, and lasted until the day he passed and beyond.
Lummis already penned a touching tribute to her friend after he passed, but she recently spoke on the Senate floor as well, paying homage to her colleague and her friend.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Lummis asked for unanimous consent to suspend the quorum call for a brief time, and it was granted.
"Mr. President, I am just profoundly sad and also humbled and proud to honor the memory of a cherished son of Wyoming," Lummis began. "More than anything, I rise to honor my longtime friend, Leland Christensen. Leland was most recently State Director for my U.S. Senate office. Truly, his death cuts me to the depth of my heart."
Lummis stated that she had known Christensen for decades and said that there were few losses that she felt as deeply as the one she felt for him.
Lummis gave a brief history of Christensen's accolades, noting that he was a member of the Wyoming National Guard, a sheriff, a County Commissioner for for Teton County, a state Senator, a chairperson for the State Senate's Judiciary Committee, the Deputy Director of the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security, and the State Director for the U.S. Senate office.
"When I was elected to the U.S. Senate, I knew I needed Leland on my team because he loved Wyoming people," Lummis shared. "He loved to help his fellow man. He cared about the challenges faced by our state and its people. His smile would light up every room and his laugh was infectious. He was a joy to be with."
Lummis remembered a trip in which Christensen led her and her daughter through the Teton wilderness on horseback. She said that on river-rafting trips, Christensen rescued people. She said he would search for people in the wilderness because "he knew the wilderness areas like the back of his hand." Lummis said that Christensen would have thrived 200 years ago just as easily as he thrived in the 21st century.
He was a rescuer. He was courageous. He was solid. That applied to his life and to his work.
"I can honestly say I never worried about whether my team was taking care of the needs of my constituents in Wyoming, because I always knew that Leland was watching," Lummis said. "He always made sure that anyone who needed help with a federal agency was assisted, that our team was doing everything possible to help them resolve their problems."
She said that Christensen was a man of God, offering grace over meals that sounded more like sermons. And now, Lummis said, God had called him home. So she, and everybody else who ever had the pleasure of knowing the man, now prayed for him and for his family. Lummis said she mourns his loss with Christensen's wife Anita, and her children - Hunter, Brittany, Simone, Jed, and Wyatt, along with their spouses and Anita's grandchildren.
"I've worked with hundreds of colleagues; many of whom I've cared for very much," Lummis said. "But rarely do I come across someone whose sincere humility, generosity, and selflessness come close to those of Leland Christensen. Every day spent with Leland was a better day. He was the definition of both civil servant and statesman. And on behalf of the people of Wyoming, I want to say thank you for his service to our state and to our country."
Lummis said that Leland Christensen was tough as nails, endlessly patient, and unwaveringly kind.
"By every estimation, certainly by my estimation, he was 10 feet tall and bulletproof," Lummis said.