Louise Shadduck, a politically well-connected descendant of one of Coeur d’Alene’s pioneer families who wrote several books on Idaho history, blazed trails for women and was inducted into Idaho’s Hall of Fame, died Sunday after an extended illness. She was 92.
Shadduck began her career as a reporter and columnist for the Coeur d’Alene Press in the 1930s and was also a correspondent for The Spokesman-Review. Assigned to cover the Republican national convention in Chicago in 1944, she soon moved into politics, serving on the staffs of several Idaho Republicans, including Idaho Govs. Len Jordan and Charles A. Robins, Sen. Henry C. Dworshak and U.S. Rep. Orval Hansen.
An early supporter of Ronald Reagan and a friend of Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, Shadduck remained politically active her entire life. Last October, a week before her 92nd birthday, Idaho Lt. Gov. Jim Risch named her his North Idaho campaign chair when he announced he was running for the seat of outgoing U.S. Sen. Larry Craig.
“By the way Louise, did I tell you you’d have to go door to door?” Risch joked before the crowd at his North Idaho campaign kickoff at the Coeur d’Alene Resort.
“That’s what I’ve been doing all morning,” Shadduck shot back.
Shadduck was appointed Idaho state secretary of commerce and development in 1958 – the first woman in the country to hold that position. She was also an executive director of the Idaho Forest Industry Council and received an honorary law degree from the University of Idaho in 1969. She was president of Idaho Press Women in 1966 and served as president of the National Federation of Press Women from 1971 to ‘73.
Shadduck “was very well liked and was a wonderful speaker,” said former Idaho legislator Hilde Kellogg, 89, a fellow Republican who knew her for decades. Shadduck had a home with a beautiful view at Mica Bay on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Kellogg said.
Her great-niece Kiantha Shadduck of Coeur d’Alene, a 35-year old freelance journalist, said Shadduck grew up on the Coeur d’Alene dairy farm owned by her parents, Lester and Mary Shadduck, with six brothers. She survived them all. She never married – later saying “it was because no man could keep up with her,” Kiantha Shadduck said with a laugh.
“She had to make her way in a man’s world. She traveled the world and had wonderful stories and she became a part of the old boys’ club,” her great-niece said. One of her great-aunt’s favorite mementos: A photograph of Reagan kissing her on the cheek.
Shadduck was chosen in 1990 as one of 100 “Idahoans who make a difference,” appearing on the cover of the magazine published by the Idaho Centennial Homecoming Commission.
Shadduck often said Idaho hadn’t recorded enough of its pioneer history.
“Every time an old-timer dies, I think, ‘There goes a book. We’ve lost what they know,’ ” she told a reporter in 1990.
She tried to fill that void by writing copiously on Idaho history. Her books include “Andy Little, Idaho Sheep King,” “Doctors with Buggies, Snowshoes and Planes: 100 Years and More of Idaho Medicine,” “At the Edge of the Ice: Where Coeur d’Alene and its People Meet” and “Idaho Rodeo!” Her last book, still unpublished, is about architect and hotelier Victor Dessert.
In 1998, a new, $1.65 million state building was named after her – a Department of Lands office building in the Coeur d’Alene Industrial Park.
The dedication was a “huge surprise,” Kiantha Shadduck said. Her great-aunt had been told she was needed to make a speech about the building, but she didn’t know it was being named after her. The secret was revealed with then-Gov. Phil Batt, Sen. Dirk Kempthorne, Sen. Larry Craig and Otter in the audience.
In 2000, Shadduck was awarded the Outstanding Achievement in the Humanities award by the Idaho Humanities Council, which called her a “beloved and tireless public citizen” whose books made Idaho history accessible.
As she neared her 90th birthday in 2005, Shadduck organized a family expedition to Enterprise and Joseph, Ore., where her great-grandfather had led a wagon train of five wagons from the Midwest along the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s. Shadduck said she wanted to show younger family members the site of their ancestors’ travels.
“She drove herself there and back,” her great-niece said. The family came from throughout the Northwest and gathered in Enterprise to learn more about their history.
Before that trip, Shadduck told a Spokesman-Review reporter she was reading “The Measure of My Days” by Florida Scott-Maxwell, an author that Shadduck said had inspired her about old age.
“Old age gets a bum rap,” she said. “It’s exciting! You become more of what you’ve been. You grow! You never stop growing.”
Shadduck is survived by 10 nieces and nephews and numerous great-nieces and nephews. Yates Funeral Home in Coeur d’Alene is in charge of arrangements, which had not been finalized on Sunday.
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