Reactions to J.R. Simplot's death

May 26, 2008 

BOISE STATE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT ROBERT W. KUSTRA: "The recent passing of J.R. Simplot is a great loss to Boise State University and the State of Idaho. Mr. Simplot’s generous support of Boise State created a legacy that continues to benefit the students, the university, and the entire Treasure Valley. He and Esther were the most loyal of Bronco fans, attending every home game, including a trip to Phoenix for the big Fiesta Bowl win.

"Mr. Simplot was a unique and dynamic individual whose benevolence helped set the standard for philanthropy at Boise State. He will be long remembered as a true friend of the University.

"On behalf of everyone at Boise State University, I extend heartfelt sympathy to Esther and the entire Simplot family."

SIMPLOT BIOGRAPHER LOUIE ATTEBERRY, author of "A Billion the Hard Way," said Simplot was a billionaire who knew hard, physical labor. "He grew up on a farm. He got up early, could hitch a team and do the hard work of farming," Atteberry said. Simplot was dyslexic and struggled in school. He dropped out, calling himself "dumb," and went to work sorting potatoes.

But Simplot was a genius: "He had an uncommon vision, was a one-world figure, an internationalist who believed that the world's problems and the solutions were interconnected."

RETIRED DENTIST JOHN LUNDY, of Boise, met Simplot in 1946 after he came home from World War II. Lundy says there never was a greater competitor than J.R. Simplot. Lundy says he and Simplot often went to Fruitland to hunt ducks, and they would always leave at 4 a.m. so there would be a couple of hours to play gin before the hunting started.

"He would play just as hard for a dollar as he would for 100," said Lundy. "He was a wonderful wing-shot, too, and he would never let anyone bring their dogs to hunt because he had a Chesapeake retriever that he loved. 'Rebel will get them all,' he would say."

U.S. SEN. LARRY CRAIG: "Idaho should celebrate today the life of J.R. Simplot - a man who made a greater impact on the state of Idaho than any other individual in our history. Working with Jack has always been a phenomenal learning experience, both for me and for my staff, and such a world-class leader in business and industry will be missed."

FORMER IDAHO POWER CHIEF JIM BRUCE says J.R. Simplot was simply "one of the great individuals in Idaho history, an icon of the state." Simplot was "a visionary who proved you could start out with nothing and make something of yourself."

GOV. BUTCH OTTER: "His love of family, his appreciation of America, his work ethic and his devotion to making this a better world through the free enterprise system all are values to which Idaho aspires."

U.S. REP. BILL SALI: "J.R. Simplot left an indelible mark on our state and our nation. Almost all Idahoans were touched by his life in one way or another, whether we realize it or not."

U.S. REP. MIKE SIMPSON: "He was a good corporate citizen who continuously gave back to our communities. His contributions to our state exceed well beyond pioneering the frozen technology that made french fries possible. Our entire country benefited from his futuristic vision."

U.S. SEN. MIKE CRAPO: "J.R. Simplot lived his life to the fullest, blazing a trail through industry, agriculture and the arts that is hard to match. He was a remarkable man, who used his vision to create technology that has benefitted our entire country. His legacy will be long remembered by our state; he left his mark on not just Idaho, but on the world."

BOISE MAYOR DAVID BIETER: "J.R. did many great things for Idaho and for Boise, but one thing that people may not know about is that he was instrumental in saving Bogus Basin during a difficult time for the resort. He was an outstanding person, and my heart goes out to his family."

SCOTT SIMPLOT, Simplot's son, said his dad was grateful for his longevity. But in the past year, he spoke less about his goal of reaching 100 on Jan. 4, 2009. "When he was 96, 97, 98, he used to mention it, but when he got to be 99, it wasn't something he talked much about."

FORMER GOV. PHIL BATT: Simplot was an important philanthropist, whose reach includes The College of Idaho, the arts and the Discovery Center of Idaho. "He was not only a great businessman and a builder, he was perhaps one of the most generous people to ever hit Idaho."

SIMPLOT COMPANY PRESIDENT AND CEO LARRY HLOBIK: "This is a sad day for our employees, all Idahoans, and especially Simplot family members. ... J.R. was the most beloved figure in our organization and a man we all admired very much. You know that a person might not be with you for that much longer when they reach 99 years of age as Mr. Simplot had in January, but this is still a shock. He was one of those people who seemed like they could live forever."

Compiled by Statesman staff

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service