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Cecil Andrus, Former U.S. Interior Secretary, Four-Term Idaho Governor, Dies at 85


Cecil Andrus, the only person elected four times to be Governor of Idaho, died Thursday evening at his Boise home, surrounded by family and friends, just one day shy of his 86th birthday. Andrus had waged a long battle with lung cancer and complications from the disease claimed his life, according to a family spokesperson.

Andrus is the only Idahoan elected four times to be Governor of Idaho, first elected in 1970 at the age of 39. He was among the first high-profile western politicians known as a champion of conservation. During that early campaign, Andrus advocated for federal protection of the White Cloud Mountains in central Idaho. Forty-five years later, on August 7, 2015, then-President Barack Obama signed into law the Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness Act, protecting more than 275,000 acres, including some of the most spectacular vistas on the planet.

Cecil Andrus (August 25, 1931- August 24, 2017) - ANDRUS CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY
  • Andrus Center for Public Policy
  • Cecil Andrus (August 25, 1931- August 24, 2017)
After being elected Idaho governor in 1970 and 1974, Andrus was appointed in 1977 by then-President Jimmy Carter to be U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Carter later said he never considered anyone else for the job. Andrus held that post until 1981, then returned to Idaho where he was again elected governor in 1986 and 1990.

Andrus was born August 25, 1931 in Hood River, Oregon. He studied engineering at Oregon State University, and at the age of 18 he eloped to Reno, Nevada with Carol Mae May, his high school sweetheart. In Feburary 1951, Andrus enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. After his discharge from the Navy, he and his bride moved to Orofino, Idaho where he worked in the timber and insurance industries.

In 1960, Andrus was only 28 years old when he first ran for the Idaho Senate. He was elected for three terms, representing Clearwater County. Andrus ran for governor in 1966 but lost to Republican Don Samuelson, but returned to the Idaho Senate following his victory in the1968 election. In 1970, Andrus and Sameulson waged a gubernatorial election rematch where Andrus emerged victorious. He was reelected in 1974, the same year that Time magazine named Andrus one of the "200 Faces for the Future."

Former Idaho Govs. Phil Batt (left) and Cecil Andrus (right) in January, 2015. - BOISE WEEKLY
  • Boise Weekly
  • Former Idaho Govs. Phil Batt (left) and Cecil Andrus (right) in January, 2015.
Following his illustrious political career, Andrus remained in the spotlight, introducing then-Senator Barack Obama to 14,000 Idahoans who came to see the Democratic presidential candidate at Boise State's Taco Bell Arena in 2008.

Andrus continued to serve his constituency through the Andrus Center for Public Policy, which he founded in 1996, until his death.  He is survived by wife Carol, three daughters, three grandchildren and one great granddaughter.

Funeral arrangements, which will be private, are planned for Wednesday, Aug. 30 in Boise. A public lying in state ceremony will follow at noon that same day under the dome of the Idaho Capitol rotunda and continue until noon on Thursday, Aug. 31. A public memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 31 in the Jordan Ballroom of Boise State University. In lieu of flowers, the Andrus family suggests memorial gifts to the Andrus Center of Public Policy.

  • Kelsey Hawes
"The family warmly thanks each and every individual who has sent cards, letters and flowers and wishes it were possible to personally acknowledge each expression of concern and caring," reads a statement from a family spokesperson. "Please know that your well wishes have meant so much to the entire family as they attempt to deal with the loss of our husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather."

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