In the week since Cecil Andrus’ death, politicians, community leaders and even a former U.S. president have recalled the storied career of the former governor and Interior secretary.
Thursday, at a packed, 90-minute memorial service at Boise State University, we heard from one last group and the people who maybe knew him best — his family.
Specifically, his daughter, Tracy Andrus, spoke to the more than 1,000 gathered about what it was like to grow up with “Cece” as your father.
Tracy said she would leave it to the other guest speakers — John Hough, a former Andrus press secretary, chief of staff and special assistant to the secretary of the Interior; U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson; and Marc C. Johnson, a former press secretary and chief of staff to the governor — to talk about her father’s work and accomplishments as a public servant.
“Today, I would like to tell you about the man we were so fortunate to have at the center of the family who loved him fiercely and relished in the private times we got to share,” Tracy said.
Andrus was a devoted hunter and fisherman, and his daughter’s stories referenced that from the start.
“So what happens when an avid outdoorsman ends up with three daughters?” she said. “He teaches them to fish.”
Each girl had her own fishing equipment. Initially, when they were young, their father would put the worm on the hook for them. By the time they were 6 or 7 years old, they were baiting their own hooks.
By the time they were 10 years old, Tracy said, they were cleaning their own catch under their proud father’s watchful eye.
Growing up an Andrus kid, you learned that your father had to be shared with many others. And I have to admit, sometimes that was hard to do. But then we realized, as we grew up, that Dad loved all of you just as much as you loved him.
Tracy Andrus, one of former Gov. Cecil Andrus’ three daughters.
As the daughters grew and began having children of their own, Andrus “reveled in his new role.”
“First came two granddaughters. … Daddy was a pushover for anything the granddaughters wanted,” Tracy said. “But he was also known for saying, ‘My girls don’t know how to make boys.’ And then came Andrew. Daddy finally had his boy. To celebrate, he left the hospital and went straight out and bought Andrew a lifetime hunting and fishing license.”
As the grandchildren grew, Andrus and his wife began doting on the four-legged members of their family.
“First came Toby, a wonderful Brittany that dad rescued from life in a hunter’s cage,” Tracy said. “Then came Jake, a German shorthair, who besides being an important hunting companion, found fame sharing the spotlight with Dad in Zamzows commercials. And for the past eight years, Macy, another German shorthair rescued from another hunter’s pen, has taken center stage in Dad’s and Mom’s lives.”
She acknowledged that in the time available, she could only give her audience “a small glimpse of the man that we girls call ‘Daddy’ and the grandchildren call ‘Grandfather.’
“He is, was and always has been the only true hero that any of us has ever had.”
Cecil Andrus will be laid to rest in a private ceremony Friday morning at Boise’s Pioneer Cemetery.
The burial will include a flag ceremony and a flyover by Idaho National Guard aircraft.
His family asks that donations in his memory go to the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State — specifically an endowed chair, the Cecil D. Andrus Center Chair for Environment and Public Lands.