J.R. Simplot's Legacy

Simplot gave away millions, frugal about spending money on himself

The man with more money than anyone else in Idaho gave away millions and was frugal about spending money on himself. The best thing in life, he once said, “is to be happy day to day. That’s more important than money.”

But few would say money was unimportant to him. One of those who knew it all too well was his late son Richard.Richard Simplot was something of an inventor. Working with a Boise physician and a College of Idaho professor, he found a way to extract silver from used X-ray film. Richard traveled the Northwest gathering used film from hospitals and eventually had a cache of silver ingots.

“Jack would come out to their shop where Dick would smelter the silver into ingots,” Adelia Simplot, Richard’s widow, said. “He kept telling them they needed to make the operation bigger, and it got too big. Jack had loaned Dick some money, the price of silver kept going up and Dick didn’t watch expenses as closely as he should have. Jack foreclosed on him and ended up with the silver.

“… He learned the hard way about doing business with his father. But I don’t think Dick ever held it against him. Dick didn’t care about money. He just liked to make things.”