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John P. Ilsley

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John P. Ilsley
Wyoming State District Judge, Fourth Judicial District
In office
Appointed byJack R. Gage
Personal details
Born(1913-12-30)December 30, 1913
Sundance, Wyoming
DiedOctober 30, 2000(2000-10-30) (aged 86)
Sheridan, Wyoming

John P. Ilsley (December 30, 1913 – October 30, 2000) was a Wyoming State District Judge in the Sixth Judicial District, which at the time consisted of Johnson and Sheridan Counties, Wyoming.[1][2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Sundance, Wyoming, to Harry P. and Evelyn E. Ilsley,[4] he graduated from Sundance High School, the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, and the University of Wyoming College of Law.[4] After law school, he worked for the Wyoming Taxpayers Association until he passed the Wyoming Bar exam in October 1939.[4]

Military service[edit]

In 1941, Ilsley moved to Gillette, Wyoming.[4] He practiced law there until July 1942, when he entered the Armed Services to serve in World War II.[4] He was on active duty for four years, including one year in the European Theater assisting with the prosecution of War Crimes.[4] After his service, he returned to private law practice in Gillette.[4]

Legal offices and judicial career[edit]

Ilsley served for a time as county attorney in Gillette.[4] In 1960, he was named Director of the American Legion 13th annual "Wonderful Wyoming Boys' State".[5] From 1960 to 1961, he was President of the Wyoming State Bar Association. In November 1962, he moved to Sheridan, Wyoming when Governor Jack R. Gage appointed him to the Wyoming State District Court, Fourth Judicial District.[4][6] In August 1972, Ilsley was one of two Wyoming delegates to the American Bar Association annual meeting in San Francisco, California.[7] Isley failed to pass a "confidence" vote in November 1974,[8] and served as a judge until the end of his term January 6, 1975.[6] After the election, Ilsley criticized the voters for not understanding the judicial selection process.[9] Wyoming Chief Justice Leonard McEwan stepped down from that position to succeed Ilsley on the district court.[10] In 1980 it was reported that Ilsley had been the only judge in the state to fail to pass such a vote since the process became part of Wyoming law in 1972.[11]

Personal life and death[edit]

Ilsley's father, Harry P. Ilsley, was a Wyoming State District Court Judge for the Sixth Judicial District from 1920 to 1952 and a Wyoming Supreme Court Justice from 1952 to 1953.[12]

On December 9, 1939, Ilsley married Helen O. Lewis in Kimball, Nebraska.[4][13] Ilsely died at Sheridan County Memorial Hospital at the age of 86.[4][14]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Wyoming State District Judge, Fourth Judicial District
Succeeded by
Leonard McEwan

(check dates)


  1. "District Court Locations – Wyoming Judicial Branch".
  2. "District Court, 4th Judicial District, Johnson County – Wyoming Judicial Branch".
  3. "District Court, 4th Judicial District, Sheridan County – Wyoming Judicial Branch".
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 "The Sundance Times November 2 Page 2".
  5. "John P. Ilsley Is 1960 Boys' State Director", The Jackson Hole Guide (January 28, 1960), p. 6.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Wyoming Blue Book, 50th Legislature Centennial Edition, Vol. 4, 1991 at 145.
  7. "Judge attends ABA meeting", Casper Star-Tribune (August 10, 1972), p. 25.
  8. "Judge to take oath of office", Casper Star-Tribune (January 21, 1975), p. 11.
  9. "Ilsley critical of voters", Casper Star-Tribune (November 18, 1974), p. 1.
  10. "Chief justice steps down", Casper Star-Tribune (January 10, 1975), p. 1.
  11. "Wyoming judges gain confidence", Casper Star-Tribune (November 6, 1980), p. C5.
  12. Wyoming Blue Book, Vol. 3, 1974 at 34 & 44.
  13. "Helen L. Ilsley- 10/07/04". Gillette News Record. October 7, 2004.
  14. "John P. Ilsley", The Billings Gazette (November 1, 2000), p. 7C.
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