Last week Idaho said goodbye to Idaho’s only four-term governor, Cecil Andrus.
Governor Andrus died August 24th, a day before what would have been his 86th birthday. Though we came from different political parties, I admired Andrus for his independence, integrity and dedication to family.
Andrus was elected to the Idaho Senate from Clearwater County at age 29 and to his first term as governor at 39. Much was made of his prowess as a hunter and fisherman. He grew up in a family that relied on game to put food on the table. A key to his success was his connection to blue-collar Idahoans and never forgetting where he came from.
Asked by President Jimmy Carter to serve as Secretary of the Interior in 1977, Andrus first sought the approval of his wife, Carol, and their three daughters. It was a family decision for Andrus to resign as governor and move the family to Washington, D.C.
After four years in Washington, Andrus still had things he wanted to accomplish back home. In 1986 and 1990, he was elected to his third and fourth terms.
Cecil and Carol Andrus were married for 68 years. At his public memorial on Thursday, their daughter, Tracy, said being a politician’s daughter meant sharing her dad with many others – something that was sometimes difficult. I appreciate how such personal sacrifices can be hard on a family. But, Tracy said, her dad was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather who always seemed to be there when he was needed most.
Andrus kept his word and stood by his principles, even when it wasn’t easy. He fought for the power of states and engaged in tough battles with the federal government. He earned the respect of many Idahoans across the political spectrum for decisive, candid leadership.
Governor Andrus deserves our gratitude for his commitment to make Idaho a better place. Becca and I have Carol and the entire Andrus family in our thoughts and prayers.