DAYTON — Whether on Padlock Ranch or in the mayoral chair at Dayton Town Hall, Art Badgett was known as one of the most fiscally-savvy folks in the community during his life of service in Sheridan County. With his business mind came a sweet demeanor and pleasant team-focused attitude.
Arthur Tifton Badgett, 81, died at his home March 27. He attended Sheridan schools and graduated from Sheridan High School in 1954. He attended Sheridan College and the University of Wyoming, and he served three years in the U.S. Army that included time in South Korea. He and his wife, Judy Olson Badgett, moved to Cheyenne following Art Badgett’s retirement in 2002 to be closer to immediate family.
Art Badgett’s service to the Dayton community still impacts its citizens today.
Badgett served on the town council and as mayor for a collective 28 years. During that time, Badgett worked as an accountant for Padlock Ranch and handled Native American leases for the ranch. His steady hand in the financial world benefitted both the Padlock Ranch and the town of Dayton.
“He was a very hands-on mayor and very fiscally responsible,” Dayton town clerk Linda Lofgren said. “He worked very hard to build up the reserves that the town of Dayton still has.”
Badgett’s projects for the town included the current fire hall, town hall and public pool. He also focused efforts on Scott Bicentennial Park by helping with the donation of land through Padlock and bringing a community group together to move and restore the bell tower that anchors the space to this day.
Badgett supported and served on the volunteer fire department for several years and later served as a lobbyist for the Wyoming Association of Municipalities in Cheyenne when he moved.
Badgett received several honors for his work within the town, including the Walmart American Hometown Leadership award in 1998, grand marshal of the Dayton Days parade in 1999 and the town’s Good Neighbor award in 2002. A former article in The Sheridan Press quoted former town councilman Walt Gray saying he didn’t know anyone else in town who was more deserving of the grand marshal honor.
“He’s willing to do anything for you,” Gray told The Sheridan Press in 1999. “He’s a very compassionate individual.”
That sense of compassion still resonates with Lofgren, who was hired by Badgett years ago. When the pool was built after a child drowned in a reservoir, Badgett dedicated time to ensure swim lessons continued at the pool.
“He used to do a race with the kids at Dayton Days every year,” Lofgren said. “Him and his skinny little legs. He’s a very charming man; I really liked him a lot.”
Lofgren tried to get Badgett to write a book about his tenure as councilman and mayor and as accountant for Padlock. She appreciated his charm every day at work and credits most of the solid governmental structure to his hard work. Badgett rewrote the ordinances, removing unnecessary and irrelevant aspects, and revamped the town newsletter.
“You started to see (Dayton) become a town the very first day,” Lofgren said.
Even after the death of Art Badgett, the town of Dayton, its residents and guests will remember his legacy for years to come.