Opinion

How to celebrate Cecil Andrus? Work to find the next Cecil Andrus

Rep. Mike Simpson spoke at a memorial service for Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus Thursday. “Giant. Legendary. Icon. Those words are all true,” he said. Simpson is one of a number of Idaho Republicans who have honored Democrat Andrus since his Aug. 24 death.
Rep. Mike Simpson spoke at a memorial service for Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus Thursday. “Giant. Legendary. Icon. Those words are all true,” he said. Simpson is one of a number of Idaho Republicans who have honored Democrat Andrus since his Aug. 24 death. kjones@idahostatesman.com

Many words have been written and spoken in the past week about the remarkable life of former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus, well beyond my power to add or detract.

But permit me one final observation: As beloved as Andrus is by the Idaho Democrats who consider him their North Star, the fiercely Democratic governor and Interior secretary to President Jimmy Carter is also cherished by Republicans.

Leaders who spoke at the stirring Statehouse ceremony and the moving Boise State University memorial service were Democrat Dave Bieter and Republican Gov. Butch Otter, and former Republican Gov. Phil Batt and current GOP Rep. Mike Simpson, who served as Idaho House speaker under Andrus (and, later, as a partner in protecting the Boulder-White Clouds as wilderness).

Andrus was remembered as a worthy adversary, respected and respectful; a loyal boss, friend and mentor; a doting husband, father and grandfather; authentic, caring and down to earth, a man who met presidents and popes but never forgot his humble origins; and someone who put doing right ahead of all else.

Those are things we all would like people to say of us when we are gone. None of those things are the province of a single party. None of those values come with a D or an R designation. The reverence and affection for Andrus is without regard to geography or generation.

It’s tempting to conclude, “We will never see the likes of him again.” But in the past week, I have heard Idahoans old and young, rural and urban, Republican and Democrat, celebrate a man who led by appealing to what Idahoans have in common, not exploiting the things that divide us. If the past week is any indication, we agree that’s what we want in a leader.

So, to begin Idaho’s post-Andrus era, I offer this: Let’s work like hell to find the likes of him again.

Bill Manny is the Statesman’s community engagement editor: bmanny@ idahostatesman.com; 208-377-6406; Twitter/Instagram: @whmanny.

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