Memorial set for Idaho GOP stalwart Brenda Walters

The 46-year-old former staffer to Otter and Craig was recovering from surgery.

dpopkey@idahostatesman.comDecember 13, 2013 

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Brenda Walters

Brenda Maynard Walters, an expert on immigration and international adoption issues and a key aide to Gov. Butch Otter and former Sen. Larry Craig, died at her home in Boise.

Walters had knee surgery Monday. About 4 a.m. Wednesday, she woke up to use the restroom and suffered a pulmonary embolism, said her former boss and former Otter campaign manager Debbie Field.

“She died in her husband’s arms,” Field said.

As word of her death spread on Facebook, Field said, “Every time I read a post, I couldn’t quit crying.”

“She was just a wonderful person,” said Otter’s spokesman, Jon Hanian. “It has everyone just stunned.”

“She was such a bright light in all of our lives,” said Idaho Department of Administration Director Teresa Luna. “She is the most loyal, compassionate, selfless person I know and I will miss her every day.”

Walters’ husband, Nathan Walters, owns a flooring business. The couple had no children.

Walters was deputy campaign manager of Otter’s 2010 re-election.

Field said Walters had a big personality and tenacious loyalty.

“She worked for people she really believed in,” Field said. “And she was never afraid to put people in their place.”

Walters grew up in Sundance, Wyo., population 1,200, where her parents ran a tavern, Field said. She graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1997 with a bachelor’s in political science.

In 1998, she began a decade on Craig’s staff, working as a staff assistant, casework director and, for the final six months of Craig’s 28 years in Congress, regional director.

“She stayed until the very end,” said Field, herself a former congressional staffer, six-term legislator from Boise and Otter’s drug czar from 2007 to 2011. “When you hear the phrase ‘Everybody should make their country their career,’ Brenda lived that.”

After Otter’s re-election, Walters operated her own consulting firm for candidates and nonprofits.

She also did work for the City Club of Boise. In May, she began a new job as senior immigration administrator in the Energy and Construction Division at URS Corp.

Walters was known for her dogged work negotiating the bureaucracy of immigration and adoption law when she worked for Craig.

“I have never seen a caseworker like Brenda,” Field said. “And I’ve been around a lot of them. She was fierce. You want a Brenda on your side.”

A tribute to Walters is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday at the Cathedral of the Rockies in Downtown Boise.

Rather than flowers, the family suggests donations to the Brenda Maynard Walters Memorial Fund for the Giraffes at Zoo Boise. To donate, call Zoo Boise at 608-7760 or visit its donation page to designate a donation in her name. Walters and her husband had no children, but raised Lucy, their beloved corgi.

Written thoughts about Walters may be sent to shelby.kerns@gmail.com for a memorial tribute that will be compiled for the family. Pictures of Walters also are sought for Monday’s memorial and may be sent to Kendra@amgidaho.com. The family offers its gratitude for the generous outpouring of love and support.

Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics

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