Dick Eardley was a popular broadcaster who turned his notoriety into a 12-year run as mayor, from 1974-1986.
Eardleys signature policy was his alliance with traditional business interests that wanted a regional mall built Downtown. But he also worked to protect the historic North End, create the Boise Arts Commission and bring the World Center for Birds of Prey to Boise.
Mayor Eardley worked diligently to make Boise a better place to live, accomplishing a number of remarkable achievements during a difficult time for our community, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter said Monday.
Eardley died in his sleep Saturday after a heart attack, said one of his three sons, Randy. He had arthroscopic knee surgery Friday intended to keep him on the golf course his passion in later years and had played his final round Thursday. He couldnt have scripted his going any better, said Randy Eardley.
Eardley worked in radio in his hometown of Baker City, Ore., before joining the Idaho Statesman as a sports and news reporter in 1955. After three years at the Statesman, he moved to KBOI-Channel 2 and KBOI-670, announcing high school sports when they were the biggest game in town.
He was a great competitor and great friend, said Bob Krueger, retired general manager and president of KTVB-Channel 7. In the 60s, Channel 2 was a very, very strong No. 1 newscast. He was a fabulous newsman and a classy guy.
Eardley was both the top news executive and sportscaster at Channel 2. In 1967, he hired Paul J. Schneider as a news reporter. You know Lou Grant on the Mary Tyler Moore Show? That was Eardley. He had the same haircut, same clothes and he knew everybody in the state, Schneider said.
Schneider got his break taking over as sportscaster when Eardley ran for mayor in 1973. KBOI landed the Boise State football contract and Schneider was the teams radio play-by-play voice for 35 years. He did me the biggest favor of my life, Schneider said.
Eardley spent years trying to convince retailers to build Downtown, but they resisted, preferring acres of parking and easy freeway access. By the end of his third term, voters changed the City Council to overturn a policy limiting any mall site to Downtown. The result was the Boise Towne Square.
Roger Simmons, who covered Eardley for KTVB and later became an Ada County commissioner, said Eardley was haunted on downtown.
Thats probably the one thing people will remember him for, but he was one of our better mayors, Simmons said. He got in the middle of things and got things done.
A gifted athlete, he played semi-pro baseball and ripped up the familys yard at 24th and Madison streets to build a basketball court for his sons. He remained a fierce competitor on the golf course, said former Gov. Phil Batt, who included Eardley in his Wednesday golf group.
He was a very good golfer, Batt said. He hated it when he hit a bad shot, which wasnt very often. And he didnt like losing our little bets, either.
Eardley is survived by sons Randy, Rick and Ron, and six grandchildren. His wife, Pat, died five years ago. Eardley never really recovered from that, said Randy Eardley.
Services are pending at Cloverdale Funeral Home.
Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics