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Respected Sandpoint Educator Dies Stidwell Devoted Half-Century To Bonner County Schools

Charles Stidwell, the man thousands of Bonner County residents knew as Mr. Education, died in Coeur d’Alene this week.

Stidwell was 94. He spent 46 years as a teacher and principal in Bonner County.

Friends say he was respected as a demanding leader and loved for his commitment to youth. A school and Boy Scout camp were named for him when he retired in 1968.

“He was a taskmaster but there was no question where his priorities were. That was with kids,” said Bonner County Schools Superintendent Leonard Parenteau, who worked with Stidwell.

“He had a great deal of concern for the young people of this community,” Parenteau said. “He ran strong, well-organized schools and in a sense was a mentor to a lot of teachers and students.”

Stidwell, a World War II veteran, began his teaching career at Kootenai Elementary School in 1922 and served as principal at Farmin Elementary. He was also principal for 17 years at the old Junior High School on Pine Street.

“Students parted like the Red Sea when he walked down the halls at the junior high,” said Sandpoint City Clerk Helen Newton, one of Stidwell’s former students.

“He would walk into the gym during a dance, turn on the lights and walk through the dance floor. He parted kids he thought were dancing too close.”

Although he was know as a disciplinarian, Newton said Stidwell always took a personal interest in students. He influenced a lot of young men during his teaching tenure and work with the Boy Scouts, she said.

A Boy Scout camp on Mirror Lake, south of Sandpoint, was named Camp Stidwell in his honor. Stidwell Junior High, now Stidwell Elementary, also was named for him when he retired from education.

“He will be well remembered by many people in the community,” Parenteau said.

A memorial service for Stidwell will be scheduled this summer by Coffelt Funeral Services in Sandpoint.

Memorials may be made to Camp Stidwell or the Bonner County Historical Museum.

Stidwell was born in Great Falls, Mont. He moved to Sandpoint in 1908 and graduated from Sandpoint High School in 1919. Stidwell never married and moved to Coeur d’Alene in 1984.

He was an honorary life member of the Boy Scouts Inland Empire Council and was named teacher of the year.

He also earned Civic Service awards from the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce and the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

Stidwell was also named Outstanding Civic Leader of America in 1967.

He is survived by several cousins and sisters-in-law and was preceded in death by his mother and a brother.

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