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Rachel Rubino was a True Wyoming Treasure

Pastor Jonathan Lange
May 11, 2023

Rachel Rubino was a Wyoming treasure. But most who read this tribute have never heard her name. That is one of her greatest charms. She cared enough about Wyoming to serve her state tirelessly. But she never cared about the spotlight, and she took deep satisfaction in unheralded service. Through this most-rare combination of diligence and self-effacement, she left Wyoming an enduring legacy. 

One who has known her long and loved her dearly put it this way: “She’s a soft tone with a witty comment perfectly apt for the moment. She’s a welcomer to so many. She’s a loving heart who calls you family so sincerely you almost believe that you really are. She’s brilliance in a humble package of school teacher. She’s someone who anchored so many and so much and now we have lost her.” 

Rubino was the daughter of James and Marion Hageman, who were lauded as National Parents of the Year in 1996. Raising a family and building a ranch from the ground up, James capped a lifetime of service with 24 years as a member of the Wyoming House of Representatives. The Hageman household included Rachel, Julia, and Harriet, James, Hugh, and Dewey—and occasionally took in additional foster brothers and sisters. 

When Rachel married Jim Rubino, she passed along this legacy to her own children, Joe and Sam. Today, the mixture of joyful thanksgiving and bitter grief are captured by the opening line of William Ross Wallace’s  1865 poem: “’Blessings on the hand of women!’ Fathers, sons, and daughters cry.” 

As we celebrate this Mother’s Day, let us pause to reflect on Wallace’s words. “Woman, how divine your mission Here upon our natal sod! Keep, oh, keep the young heart open Always to the breath of God! All true trophies of the ages Are from mother-love impearled; For the hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world.” 

The treasures of Wyoming are not found in her mines or petroleum reserves. Nor are they grazing on her wide-open ranges. The treasures of Wyoming are the children raised to be good citizens, hard workers, and who have pious reverence for the legacy that made this life possible. 

Their first contact with that legacy is “The hand that rocks the cradle.” She is the “first to guide the streamlets,” said Wallace. Her soothing voice and gentle motion are the earliest influences that we receive. And they are felt even before we are born. That motherly hand launches lives that change the world. Rachel’s hand was like this. 

When Rachel was only a child, Ronald Reagan uttered these famous words at his inauguration to California’s governorship: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

Rachel understood these words. Wyoming blood is not a matter of DNA. Our legacy is not written in the rocks, but in the minds and hearts of those well-raised. It is the yearning for freedom to be truly human that transforms the wild land into our Wyoming home. And children must be taught to use their freedom for good and to preserve it for future generations. 

Rachel inculcated this into her own children and into the hearts of many others at Laramie Middle School. Then she helped to guide the Albany County Republican Party through her decades of service as a committeewoman for the county and the state. 

Her special superpower was as a preserver of memory. Through her meticulous collection and organization of clippings, Rachel had an uncanny ability to assess the stability of campaign promises by her concrete recollection of the record. Her father’s service in state politics, her sister’s service in Washington, D.C., and her son’s service in the Secretary of State’s office may seem more consequential. But none can match Rachel’s special talent. A memorial service will be held at 2:00 pm on May 19 at the Alice Hardel Stevens Center, in Laramie. Wyomingites can honor her memory, also, by learning from her example. One doesn’t need to seek the limelight. A gentle hand and quiet voice can still shape the future of our rugged land.