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Eye On Boise

Remembering a governor

It was with great ceremony that the body of three-term Idaho Gov. Robert E. Smylie was brought to lie in state in the Capitol this evening. First, a huge cannon in the park across from the Statehouse fired a deafening 19-gun salute, the prescribed number for a governor. Then, the closed, flag-draped casket was escorted inside the capitol, where it stood amid flowers in the central rotunda, with military men and women in full dress uniform ringing it, standing at attention.

Among the crowd that gathered to file through the rotunda and pay respects, conversation drifted from politics to Idaho history to everyday life. Displays of photos and memorabilia included the manual typewriter on which Gov. Smylie famously typed his speeches.

Smylie, governor of Idaho from 1955 to 1967, established Idaho’s state park system, department of commerce, historical museum, an improved state highway system and a retirement system for state employees. He oversaw the end of the political patronage system and the start of a civil service system for the state’s workforce, and the enactment of a sales tax to provide funding for education – a move so controversial that after its enactment, the three-term GOP governor lost the next gubernatorial primary to Don Samuelson.

Smylie also served two terms as Idaho Attorney General. His survivors include his son Steve, a Republican state representative from Boise.

Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.