The late former Idaho Senator, Frank Forrester Church III, is rapidly fading from public memory not only in Idaho, but nationally. Church served Idaho honorably for 24 years (1957-1981), the only Democrat senator ever re-elected (three times) in Idaho history.
Except for those that love to recreate in “The Frank,” the vast 2.3 million acre wilderness in central Idaho named after the author of the 1964 Wilderness Act (The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness), few folks recall Idaho’s most famous Democratic senator and second only to William E. Borah as Idaho’s most famous in the first 125 years of statehood.
Thousands of Idahoans and hundreds of thousands of Americans owe a special debt of gratitude to the Senator, who was unique in pursuing an issue we all come to care about but few senators ever take up as a cause.
Frank had an abiding concern about how elderly are cared for especially as death approached. He was an early supporter of hospice and the dignity of dying at home with loved one’s around and professional caregivers available to assist.
It took him eight years to get it done, but eventually something we all take for granted today, became a reality - the ability to have hospice costs covered by Medicare.
The next time a hospice nurse drops by to assist you in caring for a dying loved one, say a brief prayer of thanks for the Senator.
He was keenly aware of the fragility of life, having beaten testicular cancer as a young man at Stanford following his work in World War II as an intelligence officer. Having faced down death once he was virtually fearless. The cancer returned when he was 59 and he died relatively quickly on April 7, 1984. Some say it was just as well he had been defeated in 1980 by Congressman Steve Symms.
I’m not one of those; all I see is lost opportunity. He did so much good and in three years could have done more. From the creation of the Sawtooth and Hells Canyon National Recreation Areas, to care for elderly, to the defense of American values by holding hearings exposing the rogue activities of the CIA and international corporations, Frank Church did it all, with grace and honor. (more…)