Meeker’s Phyllis Wigington attends Democratic National Convention

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MEEKER — Politics runs in Phyllis Wigington’s family.
Democratic politics, that is.
“My mother went to the (Democratic) national convention when Kennedy was nominated,” Wigington said. “I think it was 1960.”
Nearly 50 years later, Wigington followed in her mother’s footsteps.
Last week, Wigington attended the Democratic National Convention in Denver, at the invitation of Colorado Senator Ken Salazar.
“I enjoyed it so much,” said the 85-year-old Wigington. “I climbed all over that arena (the Pepsi Center).”
Wigington had to chuckle recalling her reaction to when her mother attended the 1960 convention in Los Angeles.
“She was 58, and I thought she was too old to go,” Wigington said. “And here I am in my mid-80s.”
Though she tired at times, Wigington wouldn’t have traded the experience of seeing history being made with the presidential nomination of the first African-American.
“My nephew called and said, ‘Auntie Phil, you were part of something,’” she said. “I thought (the convention) was wonderful. Everybody was happy and relaxed and hopeful. I just had a great time. There were people next to me from Chicago, where he (Democratic nominee Barack Obama) is from, which was nice.”
Wigington was in attendance last Thursday night when Obama gave his acceptance speech at Invesco Field, home of the Denver Broncos football team.
“I had a wonderful seat,” she said. “Fifth row up in the first tier. I was impressed with him (Obama) and his family.”
Democratic politics runs deep in Wigington’s family. She remembers the time she saw President Franklin Roosevelt.
“We were Democrats who came from western Kansas during the Depression, the dust storms, all of that,” she said. “My dad drove me to Dodge City, I think it was, and I got up on my dad’s shoulders to see Mr. Roosevelt. He was on the train. He came out on the back car and talked.”
Then there was the time her daughter saw President Harry Truman.
“My daughter took a bouquet of flowers to him and gave him a kiss,” Wigington said. “He was coming through Rifle on a train. There was a picture of her giving him a flower and a kiss that appeared on the front page of the Rocky Mountain News.”
The first time Wigington voted in a presidential election, she voted for Roosevelt. The year was 1944. The voting age, back then, was 21.
“Ever since I was 21, which was the first time I voted, I haven’t missed an election,” Wigington said.
Wigington knows her politics run counter to those of many in traditionally Republican Rio Blanco County.
“I know how this county will go (in the presidential election),” she said. “We don’t have one Democrat in office in Meeker. We’re a minority. But they’re good Republicans here. I can’t complain about that.”
Wigington first met Salazar when the Colorado senator campaigned here.
“I was the only one who showed up at the Meeker Cafe,” Wigington said. “I went down to meet this man Salazar. We were the only two people there. It was hunting season. So, we had a one-on-one. We have been friends since then.”
Wigington’s political passion even converted her husband, Glen, who grew up on the other side of the aisle.
“He comes from a Republican family,” she said. “But I got him oriented. I didn’t have to pressure him, really. I didn’t threaten to leave. He did it on his own.”
Being a lifelong Democrat, Wigington almost always votes for her party. Almost always.
“I’ve crossed the line twice,” she said. “I voted for Eisenhower (for president), and I voted for Renae Neilson, county assessor. She’s got strong character.”
So, how does she like Obama’s chances in November?
“I think they’re pretty good,” she said.