Martha and Gerry Wyrsch

Martha and Gerry Wyrsch – Unlocking Opportunity

A fund to support Honors students

Martha and Gerry Wyrsch
If you had asked Gerry Wyrsch what he considered his greatest accomplishment during his tenure in our nation’s capital, he would have told you it was meeting Martha Brown of Laramie, Wyoming. At the time, Martha served on the legislative staff of Senator Alan K. Simpson. The two met in the early 1980s at St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Capitol Hill. It was Valentine’s Day.

They would later marry and spend 41 years together.

Gerry Wyrsch had a long and successful career in law and banking. He earned his bachelor’s at George Washington University, studying as a night student. During that time, he worked full time on the legislative staff of three U.S. Senators. He was later named to the professional staff of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

Martha also studied at George Washington University earning her JD, after completing her bachelor’s in English from the University of Wyoming in the Honors College. After they married, the pair moved to Colorado where both practiced law, Gerry in banking and Martha in energy, corporate, and securities. Gerry earned his JD at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Martha would later graduate from Harvard University Business School’s Advanced Management Program.

Martha moved from law to business and, over the course of her career, served as CEO for two large energy companies that were part of global enterprises, as well as chief legal officer for three Fortune 500 energy companies. She now serves as a public company director in energy and financial services. She also serves on the University of Wyoming Foundation Board. In 2005, Martha was named a Distinguished Alumni of the UW College of Arts and Sciences, and in 2007 she was given the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Wyoming.

In their time together, the Wyrsch’s built a family.

“We have two children,” says Martha. “Our son Peter is married and lives in Denver. He works in forestry and energy as a consultant. Our daughter Molly is in graduate school at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, earning a master’s in Library Sciences. Neither one studied at the University of Wyoming, but they love the state, and particularly the Laramie area, and spend a lot of time here. We have a wonderful cabin in the Snowy Range. Our roots are here in Wyoming.”

Gerry passed away earlier this year.

Before his passing, the couple committed to an endowed gift of $1 million in support of the UW Honors College, establishing the Martha and Gerry Wyrsch Student Enrichment Fund in Honors. The gift was partially matched by the UW Foundation.

“Gerry and I wanted to focus on an aspect of University of Wyoming education that hadn’t gotten as much attention,” says Martha. “Our goal is to enhance education opportunities in Wyoming, and the Honors College seemed like a natural fit. Here you have students who are ambitious, curious, and willing to go the extra mile. We wanted to make it possible for these students to participate in enriching experiences outside of the campus, offering opportunities to broaden their horizons and perspectives.”

The mission of enhancing the UW student experience is a personal one for Martha. At UW, she participated in the then-newly formed UW Honors Program. She was an active student, elected president of the student body, an officer in the Tri Delta Sorority, a member of Mortar Board, and a member of SPURS. However, she was aware that there were some opportunities that were not accessible.

“When I came to the university, my parents had three children in college at the same time,” says Martha. “Two of us came to UW and one went out of state. My sister had the opportunity at Colorado College to study abroad in a cost-effective manner. At the time, the University of Wyoming didn’t have that option available. Experiences like affordable study abroad programs are the kinds of opportunities we want UW students to have available to them. If our gift can help make that happen, then we will have achieved our goal.”

The Martha and Gerry Wyrsch Student Enrichment Fund in Honors fosters excellence and provides financial support to UW honors students with financial need, including first-generation students. The fund will provide resources and support to students, allowing them to seek opportunities for educational enrichment. Student support is a University of Wyoming institutional fundraising priority.

“The Martha and Gerry Wyrsch Student Enrichment Fund in Honors is already having a transformational impact,” says Peter Parolin, dean of the Honors College. “With this generously imagined fund, the Honors College can help our students overcome financial limitations and accept outstanding educational opportunities that come their way—perhaps studying University of Wyoming  abroad for a semester, traveling to collect data for research, or attending an important conference. Martha and Gerry were very clear that this fund should unlock opportunities for students, and we are excited to put their beautiful vision into action.”

“I’m so grateful now, even more than I was in school, that I received generous scholarship support to attend UW,” adds Martha. “This university is very unique. For Wyoming to have one state university along with a network of exceptional community colleges, knitted together and working closely to ensure that everyone in Wyoming has the opportunity to get a higher education—that’s really special.”


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