Laramie Locals Who Made it Big – Our Top 5
Laramie may be a small town in the least populated state in the US, but this does not mean our town is full of boring individuals. There is quite a list of notable Laramie locals who have become well known or made it big in their lifetime. We have compiled a list of our top five picks of the most notable people that are originally from our humble town of Laramie.
Born in Laramie on August 12, 1950 he was the son of local Minister, James Norman Beaver. Although Beaver was not raised in Laramie is entire life he spent his early life living here, while his father finished doing graduate work at the University of Wyoming. After his father finished his education his family moved Irving, Texas. Throughout Beaver’s adolescent years he showed no interest in acting but was very attracted film history and writing. In college his acting career started to blossom with his first on stage appearance in Rain at the Oklahoma Theatre Center in Oklahoma City. Beaver is most well known for his role in the HBO Western drama series Deadwood and for his appearance in CW television series Supernatural.
Downey was a Democrat to the United States Senate in California in the year 1938. He was born and raised in Laramie; then went through the Albany County public school systems and went on to attend the University of Wyoming where he graduated in 1907. Downey then went on to law school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. After law school he returned to Laramie to practice law and soon after was elected District Attorney of Albany County. In 1913 Downey moved to Sacramento, California where he continued to practice law. In 1938 he ran for the US Senate, during the campaign he appeared on the cover of Time magazine. Downey won the race and defeated Republican Philip Boncroft in November of ‘38. While in Senate Downey was most know for being one of California's most significant progressive politicians and for his support of old-age pensions, organized labor, and racial justice.
Know as the official voice of the Wyoming Cowboys, Larry Birleffi was born and raised just outside of Laramie in Platte County. Birleffi graduated from the University of Wyoming with a bachelor’s degree in English and soon after joined the US Army. While in college he was very interested in sports and became a sports writer for the Laramie Daily Boomerang. Not long after his time with the army Birleffi was drawn to the radio and television aspects of sports. He was a co-owner of a radio station and became the announcer for the UW football and basketball team for around 37 years.
As the first Wyoming archeologist Frison was internationally recognized and was the receiver of many archeologist awards. He was not only an outstanding archeologist but was also the creator of the University of Wyoming Anthropology Department. Although Frison was not born in Laramie he spent much of his life in the town; after graduating high school in Worland, WY he enrolled at the University of Wyoming. This is where his dreams took off, Frison graduated from UW with a degree in anthropology. Frison was the recipient of the American Archaeology Lifetime Achievement Award, Paleoarchaeologist of the Century Award, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
Gerry Spence was born on January 8, 1929 in Laramie. Spence graduated from the University of Wyoming Law School with honors in 1952. He was an astounding trial lawyer who was well known for his wins in many significant cases. His most notable case was the Karen Silkwood case. Silkwood was an employee at Kerr-McGee plutonium production plant, where she was also an activist for plant safety. Silkwood died in a one-car accident under skeptical conditions after supposedly gathering evidence for her union. Spence represented Silkwood's family, who charged the plutonium production plant for exposing Silkwood to dangerous levels of radiation. Spence won a $10.5 million verdict for the Silkwood family. Spence was also very famous for his work with many other cases and lectured at multiple Law Schools; he retired in 2008 at the age of 79.