You Don't Know Jack


Idaho's arguably best-known citizen, J.R. Simplot, died over the weekend.

The 99-year-old billionaire died of natural causes in his downtown Boise home on Sunday morning.

Simplot's company has been a cornerstone of the state's agricultural economy. Over the decades he became an icon, the first-man of potatoes.

Last year, Forbes ranked Simplot No. 80 on its list of the most wealthy Americans with an estimated $3.2 billion in the bank.

His big house on the hill is as famous as he was, although he hasn't lived there for years. He donated the massive mansion to the state to serve as the future governor's mansion.

Politicians and business people have been coming out of the woodwork to release statements.

Here are some of the more notable ones:

From Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, who was once married to Simplot's daughter and worked for his company:

“J.R. Simplot was a wonderful man and a great mentor who embodied what Idaho is all about. His love of family, his appreciation of America, his work ethic and his devotion to making this a better world through the free enterprise system all are values to which Idaho aspires. He had a huge impact on my life for over 30 years, and I shall miss him.”

From Boise Mayor Dave Bieter:

“I was saddened to hear of the passing of J.R. Simplot. J.R. did many great things for Idaho and for Boise, but one thing that people may not know about is that he was instrumental in saving Bogus Basin during a difficult time for the resort. He was an outstanding person and my heart goes out to his family.”

From First District Democratic congressional candidate Walt Minnick:

“J.R. had an unusual energy that electrified a room. He was a visionary, an independent thinker, a leader and one of Idaho’s great philanthropists. His business career and life reflects all Idaho was, is and will become, from its agricultural roots to its growing future in technology.