This year witnessed the passing of two Idahoans who dedicated their lives to public service. Neither Orval Hansen nor Larry Boyle held public office to enrich themselves or others; rather, they were there to give of their time on this planet to make it a better place for the rest of us.
I became acquainted with Congressman Orval Hansen when I went to work for former Idaho Sen. Len Jordan in January 1970. Senator Jordan told me they had worked closely on Idaho issues since Orval’s election to the House of Representatives in 1968. Jordan said Orval was one of the best people he knew in Washington. He admired Orval for the way he dug into issues and was able to work with his House colleagues to get things done for Idaho. That was high praise from a man who did not pass out compliments freely.
During the three years I worked with Rep. Orval’s office, I came to appreciate why Jordan held him in such high regard. Most of that work was through Dave Oxford, my counterpart in the Hansen office. Dave described how Orval became knowledgeable on nuclear issues by studying massive amounts of material on nights and weekends. That work paid off in the growth of the nuclear facility near Idaho Falls (now the Idaho National Laboratory), largely through Orval’s efforts. He approached every other issue with the same vigor, gaining a reputation for his ability to get things done. One of his crowning achievements was getting the Sawtooth National Recreation Area legislation through the House.
Although Orval’s hard work served his state and nation well, producing results for constituents does not necessarily produce votes. While Orval was diligently working nights and weekends in the nation’s capital and not doing a lot of tooting of his own horn, his 1974 opponent was shaking every hand in sight and won the election that year. That did not stop Orval, though, because he continued to serve the public interest in important ways, as documented in his memoir, “Climb the Mountains.”
Larry Boyle was another product of Eastern Idaho. I met Larry in the 1970s when he was practicing law in Idaho Falls. He had a solid reputation among the lawyers in the area, but I did not appreciate how solid until he applied for a district judgeship in 1986.
The Idaho Judicial Council was charged with the responsibility of interviewing candidates for the district bench and submitting a list of two to four candidates to the governor for appointment. Larry was the only person who applied for the position, so the list sent to the governor had just his name. We were told that when the lawyers heard Larry had applied, they recognized that he was the perfect choice and nobody else put in an application.
I was Idaho attorney general at the time and was presented the question of the legality of appointing from a list of one. The statute called for at least two candidates, so would it be appropriate for the governor to appoint Larry? I said there had to be another name on the list, so it went back to the Judicial Council. Again, Larry was the only person who applied. When presented with the same question a second time, the ruling was that the appointment should proceed.
District Judge Boyle did an outstanding job on the bench and was appointed to the Idaho Supreme Court in 1989. In 1992, he was appointed as U.S. magistrate judge for the federal court in Idaho, where he served with distinction for many years. In addition to being a distinguished jurist, Larry was heavily engaged throughout his life in civic and church matters that bettered his community and our state.
Both of these Idahoans were outstanding individuals who acted in the interests of the people of this state. They were both honest and honorable – something we see too little of this day and age in the public arena. They will be missed.
Jim Jones is a former Idaho attorney general and Supreme Court justice.