Virginia Bayes was the mother of 16 children and the grandmother to many more, and was a devout Christian who was kind to all, her neighbor says.
The 74-year-old wife of ex-gubernatorial candidate Walt Bayes died Tuesday in rural North Idaho.
Crews were responding to a need for help and firefighters found Walt Bayes first. They found Virginia Bayes in a remote area near Bathtub Mountain by the St. Joe River, but she had already died.
Walt Bayes, 79, is known statewide for his political efforts and multiple campaigns. Virginia Bayes stood by his side throughout, lending support to his message.
The conservative Emmett Republican ran long-shot campaigns for governor in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014. In 2006, Bayes went on an anti-abortion hunger strike that lasted 57 days. In 2008, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in Idaho’s House of Representatives.
His most well-known campaign came in 2014, when he challenged Gov. Butch Otter in the primary, participating in a publicly viewed debate that drew national attention.
Pro-Life, who is also from Emmett, ran in several GOP primary races against Bayes. Pro-Life, also a conservative activist and who legally changed his name, lives about 3 miles from the Bayes family. He said he knew them well.
“They went everywhere together,” Pro-Life said. “She’s not your regular woman. She home-schooled almost all of those children.”
Pro-Life said all of the Bayes children are “good citizens,” something he attributed to Virginia’s efforts and devout Christianity.
“I’ve never seen her angry or unkind to anyone,” he said.
Efforts to contact the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday afternoon were unsuccessful. The Statesman has been unable to confirm why the couple was in North Idaho on Tuesday. When Walt and Virginia Bayes were found, a small wildfire called the Buck Fire was burning nearby.
On Thursday afternoon, the Buck Fire was not contained and was burning at about 40 acres, near the Snow Peak Wildlife Management Area in Shoshone County. The cause of the fire, which started Monday, remains under investigation, according to U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Kary Maddox.