Independent Notes: Memories of Clarene Law
Governor Mark Gordon ordered the Wyoming State Flag be flown at half staff at the Capitol in Cheyenne and in Teton County from sunrise to sunset on Friday, October 7, 2022 in honor and memory of Clarene Law. Ms. Law represented District 23 in the Wyoming House of Representatives from 1991- 2004. She passed away September 21, 2022.
I must have been about 12 years-old at the time. I had my hands up on the front counter of the Antler Inn and my red head was peering over the counter listening to the owner recount her experience that day of getting trapped in one of the bathrooms of a hotel room. She had been using a combination of cleaning products and the fumes started to overcome her, making it difficult to breath and get out of the room. She made it out but it took some time to regain a breath of fresh air.
The person telling the story — Clarene Law.
In those days, my hard working Dad, Keith Dockstader sold cleaning supplies on the road and one of his biggest customers was Clarene. At the time she had the one hotel property, but with time it expanded to additional properties and the Topper Steak House.
One time, knowing my Dad had run a restaurant, Clarene asked him about the possibilities of a steak house. As the story goes, he drew out a picture on a napkin about how he had seen some of the most successful operations allow the person to choose their food at a cash register and then build a salad on their own, while waiting for their steaks.
That was the design of the Topper Steak House that developed across from the Antler. I can recall talking to my Dad about Clarene during that visit and subsequent stops as I would accompany him on his sales runs to Jackson when I was out of school for the summer.
During that early visit when the mishap occurred with the cleaning supplies, I said something like this, “Dad that lady is very strong if she could crawl out of a bathroom with all the cleaning fumes in the air and still save herself.” And besides, even at my young age, it didn’t go unnoticed the boss was cleaning the rooms. I was very impressed.
I can recall my Dad saying, “Yes, she’s tough.” I agreed.
Clarene and my Dad became good friends over the years and my Dad even got to know her husband, Creed, before he and Clarene were married. It was our understanding that my Dad may have helped them meet.
Creed ran a Pizza restaurant on the south end of Jackson and he also bought cleaning supplies from my Dad. A stop at Creeds place always turned into a lengthy visit. When we stopped in at Creed’s, I thought he was the best because he let me get my own sodas from the fountain behind the counter.
Years later Carlene was elected to the Legislature. It was there that we renewed acquaintances as I would travel to Cheyenne every year to cover the Legislature for the Star Valley Independent.
As the years went by, our paths crossed several time as I attended Legislative meetings in Jackson and she would, on occasion, visit the House and Senate on her trips to Cheyenne.
We always stopped what we were doing on the Senate floor to give Clarene time to step to a mic and say a few words. The respect for Clarene, in both the House and Senate, was noticeable. Longstanding applause always followed her comments.
She was an incredible person — successful Wyoming business owner, powerful Legislator. She had the respect of all those around her. She earned all of this through hard work and service.
In the final years of the steak house in Jackson I stopped in one night to buy my daughter Kaylen and a friend dinner.
Clarene and some of her grandchildren were there having dinner. We took the time to visit.
I chose to share that story with her from my younger days when we stopped in at the Antler on the sales call and found her recovering from the mishap with cleaning supplies in the bathroom.
She remembered the entire event all those years later. I told her my Dad, who had since passed away, had always appreciated her friendship and all who have known her have appropriated her wisdom and fine example to family and friends.
What a wonderful Wyoming business woman and an exemplary public servant she was.
Rest in peace Clarene, you deserve it. Thank you for all you have done for family, friends and Wyoming!