Former Vice President Dick Cheney eulogized former Wyoming U.S. Sen. Malcolm Wallop on Thursday as a principled friend and public servant with the same qualities as President Ronald Reagan.
"He stood out in the nation's capital as men of principles tend to do," Cheney said Thursday, addressing about 300 people who packed a small church for the service.
Wallop died last week at age 78 at his ranch near Big Horn in northern Wyoming. He served in the Senate from 1977 to 1995, including 10 years when Cheney was Wyoming's congressman and Alan Simpson was Wallop's colleague in the Senate.
"The combination made for a lot of laughs whenever we got together, and we counted on Malcolm to give dignity to the proceeding," Cheney said, drawing laughs from the friends, family and dignitaries crowded into the pews at St. Peter's Episcopal Church.
Current U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and Gov. Matt Mead were among those attending the service in the century-old brick-walled church.
Despite representing the state with the smallest population, the three-member delegation was called by some at the time one of the most influential in Washington. Wallop was one of the leading conservatives during the Reagan era, Simpson was a rising leader in the Republican Party and Cheney had previously served various White House posts, including chief of staff, during the Nixon and Ford administrations.
"It wasn't the biggest delegation but it was quality," Cheney said.
Cheney said Wallop was one of the members of Congress whom Reagan relied on to help advance his policies during the "decisive final years of the Cold War" with the former Soviet Union.
Wallop advocated for the space-based anti-missile defense system, tax reform, a tough anti-communist policy in Central America as well as other conservative causes.
Reagan's qualities as a leader included conviction in dealing with the nation's issues, Cheney said.
"And the same can be said about Malcolm Wallop," he said during the eulogy that lasted about seven minutes.
Cheney said Wallop also was a valuable ally and adviser to him when Cheney was secretary of defense under President George H.W. Bush.
Wallop could have served longer in the Senate, Cheney said, choosing not to seek re-election in 1994 and moving on to other things, including founding the Frontiers of Freedom Foundation conservative think tank.
"When he said `I don't think the only place to fight for freedom is in the halls of Congress,' it only reminded us that he had gone there for all the right reasons in the first place," Cheney said. "He loved his country and more than that he loved his countrymen."
Wyoming Supreme Court Justice William Hill, who served as Wallop's chief of staff, and Wallop's son, Oliver Matthew Wallop, also delivered eulogies. Bishop Vernon Strickland presided over the service.
Having served in the U.S. Army in the 1950s, Wallop was buried with military honors in Sheridan Municipal Cemetery in a pine tree shaded family plot next to his parents.
He is survived by his wife, Isabel, and four children.
Bob Moen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/bobmoen