One of my cardinal rules about politics is there are seldom any coincidences. There may be coincidences, however, of time, place, and especially, of people. Our lives during the Biblical three score and ten will intersect with many different people. This has led demographers and social scientists to refer to the six degrees of separation - go back six generations and you will discover the Pope and you are related - in theory.
Over the years I’ve been surprised at the number of people my path has crossed who, like me, were born in Shoshone county, either in Kellogg or Wallace. For a county with fewer than 4000 people, I could quickly name a dozen, most of whom were serving or had served their home state with honor and brought distinction to the native county.
All merit mention, but space limits dictate just a few. This is my saying thank you for your assistance.
Tim and Julie Olson. High scphool sweethearts who married while Olson was attending Idaho State in the mid-60s having led Kellogg to its last state basketball championship in 1964. Tim retired two years ago as the vice president for Blue Shield of Idaho, but has continued to lobby the Idaho Legislature. We always gather at their summer place on Rose Lake for a good old fashioned patriotic 4th of July and he allows me to sing “Here We Have Idaho.”
Mike Blackbird. A former state senator who would have been a great governor had he stayed in Idaho. I assisted him in doing a wonderful book about his brother, Jerry, also a state senator, entitled One Flaming Hour.
Kenton Bird. Currently the head of general education at the University of Idaho, a former director of the School of Journalism at the University of Idaho, and a former journalist, he was terrificly helpful to me in bringing back to public attention the fine novels penned by a former Idaho poli-sci teacher, Syd Duncombe.
Art and Sherry Krulitz; Leo Krulitz. I knew Art’s cousin, Leo, long before I knew Shoshone County Commissioner Sherry and her husband. One could say they are easily the “power couple” of the county. Sherry was a popular commissioner and could still be if she wanted to be. She still works Facebook and the pictures of her flowers and garden are terrific.
Leo, like Art, grew up in Mullan. He attended Stanford, graduating with honors, then attended and graduated from Harvard Law. While still in his 20s and an active Democrat he became a stalwart supporter of then State Senator Cecil Andrus’ gubernatorial ambitions. He served as the campaign manager for Andrus’ first run in 1966. I still tease him about the campaign slogan he came up with for Andrus: “My kind of man.” Leo went on to become general counsel for the Cummins Engine Corporation until Andrus lured him into government service as his Solicitor at the Department of the Interior from 1977 to 1981.
David Fisher. First met “Fish” when he was working for First InterState bank. He went on to work for one of America’s great innovative corporations, Intel, the master builder of ever smaller but ever increasing capacity microchips, the wafers all made from the same material assembled in anti-septic environments and the guts of your computer. Fisher deftly handled the competition between northwest states for Intel’s major fabrication facility that located near Portland.
Chuck Malloy. One of few editorial writers who has covered Idaho politics extensively for over 30 years and has an institutional memory. He hails from Kellogg and though he has worked at times for the Idaho Republican party, he is a fine journalist and a great observer of the scene.
The late Harry and Collen Magnuson and their sons, Jim, John and Tom. Selected by Governor Andrus to run the 1990 Idaho Centennial Commission, and the man who saved Gonzaga University from bankruptcy, Harry was synonymous with the county. He and his sons also saved the hometown of Wallace by turning it into the snowmobile capitol of the world.
When all is said and done, my old rule regarding no coincidences in politics still holds true. Either that, or there is something in the water we all drink up here in north Idaho. I know I am better for having our trails cross. All of these people were the kind of folks dedicated to leaving the old camp site in better shape than they found it.