The Purdy family legacy predates Idaho’s statehood. Leonard N. “Bud” Purdy’s grandparents, who raised Bud and his siblings, homesteaded in what is now Picabo, Idaho, in 1883, six years before Idaho became the Union’s 43rd state. Bud, 95 years old in January 2013, still works the ranch every day. Nick Purdy, Bud’s son and his wife, Sharon, oversee myriad family enterprises, including a cattle and farming operation on some 42,000 acres of deeded, leased and BLM land, real-estate development projects, and several retail, manufacturing and machinery enterprises in their hometown and in Boise.
Nick has used his 1962 agricultural engineering degree from the University of Idaho throughout his career in designing and building projects, and all three of the couple’s sons are involved in the various Purdy enterprises. Of his UI education, Nick says, “My engineering courses in hydraulics and fluids and structures led me to start a business in sprinkler irrigation that is still operating, and also led me to start IBM computer stores in Sun Valley and Boise that I later sold.” He also met and married Sharon and started their family while a UI student.
In 2000, the Purdys created and began funding the Nick and Sharon Purdy Agricultural Engineering Endowment at UI, and have continued adding to it over the years. The endowment provides scholarships to deserving ag engineering students. In 2008, the Purdys’ family- owned corporation, Picabo Livestock Co. Inc., gave the University some valuable building sites and received a charitable income tax deduction.
The Purdys are confident that the UI Foundation will hold the land to maximize the value of the gift for the University. That’s always the Foundation’s goal; while a quick turnover may be ideal, a “fire sale” to liquidate an asset is not always the best course.
Although the Purdys have been generous to UI in a variety of ways, Nick quips, “We are land rich and cash poor, as are many people in ranching and farming.” They see this gift as a way to extend their philanthropy.