More on the Tonkin family

By Sally Caballero 

I enjoyed reading the recent article about Dr. Albert Benjamin Tonkin, and I thought folks might like to know how his legacy of love of football and loyalty and dedication to serving his community and country has carried down to his grandson, Albert Charles “Butch” Tonkin.  

Upon retirement after an impressive career of nearly 28 years in the U.S. Army and U.S. Army Reserves, Butch and his wife Sue moved back to  his hometown of Riverton where they continue to reside. It’s interesting to note that Dr. Tonkin, his son Albert Hoyle Tonkin, and his grandson  Butch all earned the rank of Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army. Dr. Tonkin served in WWI, Hoyle served in the Pacific in WWII, and Butch served, among other deployments, in the Vietnam War where he was awarded the Purple Heart. 

Both Hoyle and Butch played football in the stadium named after Dr. Tonkin. All three men understood the importance of joining together with members of the community in order to serve their community by being active members in various civic organizations, such as the Board for the Riverton Museum. Hoyle taught a hunter safety course for years, “Butch” taught swimming to Riverton youth and was a substitute teacher in the Riverton schools for several years after his retirement. 

It has been my privilege to know this prominent and inspiring family. 

Get strong or get out of Wyo.?

By Marjane Ambler

When Rep. Sarah Penn wrote her Guest Opinion to defend the Freedom Caucus in the Lander Journal on August 2, she said reducing government spending is inherently a good idea. Cynicism about government predates President Reagan who said the seven most terrifying words are, “I’m from the government, and I am here to help you.” This attitude has only grown in recent years. Rep. Penn referred to essential government services such as roads, bridges, law enforcement, sewer, and gutters. She did not mention other services provided by state and local governments such as education, ambulance services, fire protection, cemeteries, museums, flood control, etc., services many of us consider essential .

I am especially interested in the public responsibility for health care. My family Bible lists the death of my grandmother, Margaret Elizabeth Barnett, on January 8, 1923, at the age of “39 years, 2 months, 5 days.” No one could bear to write the cause of death – suicide – nor would they speak of it. My grandmother left six children at their home in Denver, including little Arthur, who was born shortly before her death.

Now we better understand postpartum depression. Fortunately for women in Wyoming, the majority of legislators voted this year to expand Medicaid coverage for new mothers from 60 days to one year. We need healthy mothers in order to have healthy babies, but Sarah Penn and other members of the so-called Freedom Caucus voted against this legislation. 

I am glad for this assistance for new mothers. However, I believe that many of our other neighbors who can’t afford health insurance also deserve help. Wyoming is one of only 11 states that has refused to expand Medicaid. Rep. Penn refers to this legislation as a “budget-busting bill to expand government health insurance.” Would she tell an uninsured person to be stronger when diagnosed with prostate cancer or their child with leukemia? In Wyoming, we want to take care of each other, but it is ridiculous to think a neighbor’s benefit event could raise enough to cover such costs.

Nor should the critics argue that people can get free treatment from the hospitals. Certain services are provided through “uncompensated care.” However, this is a big burden for hospitals ($120 million lost per year), which is why the Wyoming Hospital Association has consistently supported Medicaid expansion. 

Updating the state’s Medicaid program would extend insurance coverage to 25,000 low-income adults, and that doesn’t include children. A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Wyoming Community Foundation ranks Wyoming as 46th for children’s health. Really? Don’t we want better for our children?

When confronted with the needs of uninsured people in Wyoming, one of Rep. Penn’s colleagues said, “Well maybe those people should not live in Wyoming.” Is that what we would like to say to our neighbors? Get strong or get out? Come on. Wyoming is better than that, and we should tell our elected representatives that we believe in taking care of each other.