This week’s question: Who would you put on the "Mount Rushmore" of Idaho for the four most influential people in the history of the state?
Travis Hawkes - Managing Director, Riverwood Strategies. This is a great question, and a good reminder that the sculptor of Mt Rushmore, Gutzman Borglum, is from Idaho. My list would be Joe Albertson, JR Simplot, Harry Morrison, and Chris Petersen.
Tom Luna - Former Superintendent of Public Instruction in Idaho. Idaho's Mount Rushmore:
JR Simplot: Although he was born in Iowa, J.R. Simplot is Idaho's most famous and influential entrepreneur and businessman. I remember is the 1990's being told that if all Simplot owned business and those business that supply products and services to Simplot companies were to shut down, over 25% of Idahoans would find themselves unemployed.
Ezra Taft Benson: Former US Sec. of Agriculture under President Eisenhower. Conservative constitutionalist and defender of free enterprise and champion of capitalism. Revered leader and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints with millions of members world wide, including almost half of the population of Idaho.
Sacajawea: Helped Lewis & Clark on each of its missions in exploring the Louisiana Purchase. She traveled thousands of miles from ND to the Pacific Ocean, establishing cultural contacts with Native American populations. Of the most famous Idahoans, Sacajawea is easily the most recognizable name outside of Idaho. Her name and accomplishments are found in almost all elementary schools curriculum across the country.
Cecil Andrus: Elected Governor of Idaho four times (the most of any Governor), the last time with over 60%. Served as US Secretary of Interior under the Carter Administration. Andrus continues to engage in patrician politics. However, since leaving office Andrus has established himself as Idaho's leading elder statesman and continues to enjoy bi-partisan public support.
Justin Vaughn - Professor Political Science, Boise State University. JR Simplot, Cecil Andrus, Butch Otter, and Steve Appleton
John Zarian - General Counsel, NCCCO. Sacajawea (born near Salmon), who was the only female member of the Lewis & Clark expedition. Ernest Hemingway (resident of Ketchum), who was one of the most important writers of his time. Philo T. Farnsworth (resident of Rigby), who was an inventor and pioneer of the television. And, Howard W. Hunter, who was the fourteenth president of the LDS Church (and, along with Harold B. Lee and Ezra Taft Benson, one of three LDS Church presidents born in Idaho). President Hunter was also a lawyer, suggesting there is hope for all lawyers.