J.R. Simplot's Legacy

Simplot played cards, surprised cohorts at the Arid Club

Simplot was playing cards at the Arid Club when Velma Morrison called to ask for a donation to help build the Morrison Center for the Performing Arts.

"He played cards like he did everything else," his friend Dean Summers recalled. "He'd wear out three sets of us and still be fighting for every point.

"This kid brought over a phone and told Jack he had a call from Velma Morrison. He and I had just had a hellacious fight over two points worth five dollars. He took the phone and said, "Mmm-hmm, yeah, OK," and hung up. When I asked him what it was all about, he said Velma wanted half a million to help build her arts center. We'd been arguing like crazy over five bucks, and with a few grunts he gives her half a million."

Esther Simplot was the singer of the family, but her husband had power, a good ear and liked virtually any kind of music except rock 'n' roll, or, as he put it, "that bang-bang stuff." At a birthday party at the Arid Club, he surprised his cohorts by standing and singing a robust version of "And Here We Have Idaho," without missing a word or a note.

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