Plans are already in the works to honor the legacy of former Gov. Cecil Andrus, who died Aug. 24 at the age of 85.
On Wednesday, Andrus’ casket was brought to the Capitol, where it will lie in state through noon Thursday for anyone who wishes to pay their respects. During a short ceremony, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter announced that the city plans to rename Capitol Park, located across from the Statehouse, to Cecil D. Andrus Capitol Park.
Boise State University has already announced plans to endow a chair at its Cecil D. Andrus Center for Public Policy.
“I suspect in the next several years there will be a lot of things named after Cecil,” U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson said after the ceremony.
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His family has already held private funeral services. A public memorial service begins at 2 p.m. Thursday in the Jordan Ballroom at the Boise State Student Union Building.
A private burial is then planned for Friday morning.
‘Cece Andrus was Idaho’
As Idaho’s longest-serving governor (four terms) and the first from this state to serve in a president’s Cabinet, Andrus is “one of the most dedicated and effective leaders this state has ever known,” former Gov. Phil Batt said Wednesday. The remarks from him and others followed a 19-gun salute in front of the Capitol.
Batt, a Republican, resided across the aisle from Andrus, a Democrat. But they became good friends while both served in the Idaho Legislature in the 1960s. Batt later followed Andrus into the governor’s office in 1995.
“I worked with Gov. Andrus for over half of a century,” Batt said. “We demonstrated that you do not have to be from the same party in order to get results.”
Current Gov. Butch Otter served as lieutenant governor during Andrus’ last two terms as Idaho’s chief executive, after Andrus returned from being President Jimmy Carter’s Interior secretary. Otter, too, spoke of friendship and cross-party cooperation.
“People who knew me from my maverick days in the Legislature and a decade earlier figured there would be quite a train wreck with a political odd couple like Andrus and Otter in the Statehouse,” Otter said. “It is true we had our differences. We had contrasting political styles. He was more polished and strategic. I was in need of what Cece would constantly call ‘new training wheels.’ ”
In 1990 Andrus and Otter were each re-elected to a second term. “We had 21 Republicans and 21 Democrats in the Senate,” Otter said. “Folks were having a field day with that because I had the tie-breaker and he had the veto stamp. But there was no train wreck, and the big public blowups people had predicted simply did not happen because this Republican and that Democrat decided long before that we were going to do what was best for Idaho.
It is about realizing those people you disagree with are as earnest and as sincere as you are.
Gov. Butch Otter, on Gov. Cecil Andrus’ approach
When the two did disagree, it was done respectfully and with good-natured humor.
“I told Cece several times, ‘Cece, I know you are sincere about it, but you are just sincerely wrong.’ He told me the same thing,” Otter said.
Andrus helped forge the bridge between Idaho and Spain’s Basque Country, and local Basque dancers performed Wednesday.
“In 1992 Carol and Cecil Andrus made an historic visit to the Basque region of Spain,” said Marc C. Johnson, Andrus’ former chief of staff and press secretary. “He was the first American, and the first non-Basque, accorded the honor of speaking to the Basque Parliament. It was a momentous occasion.”
Bieter read a letter from the Basque president: “It is a sad day in Idaho. It is a sad day in the Basque Country.
“Idaho has always been a welcoming land for Basques. Basques have always felt at home in Idaho. … We will always remind friends of the good people in Idaho, of which Cecil incarnates. He will always remain one of us.”
As a “beloved leader, a cherished patron, a committed conservationist, an avid sportsman,” Otter aptly summed up Andrus’ legacy:
“As Saint Thomas Aquinas said, ‘The things that we love tell us what we are.’ By that measure, Cece Andrus was Idaho.”