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A Life of Leadership

James McClure

Hailed as Idaho’s best citizen, Idaho Senator James McClure epitomized the best qualities of leadership: a calm, reasoned dedication to public service, with a passion for serving the citizens of Idaho and the nation. The University of Idaho community joins the nation to remember McClure, a double-alumnus of the University. After earning his law degree in 1950 from U-Idaho, he began a lifetime of service that took him from Idaho’s statehouse to Congress.

Senator McClure’s political biography is impressive: Payette County prosecuting attorney, Idaho state senator, three-term member of Congress representing the First District of Idaho, and three times elected to the U.S. Senate. He served as a U.S. representative (1967 -72), and as a U.S. senator (1973-90). His committee assignments included the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee; the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which he also chaired (1981-87); the Interior Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee; the Senate Rules Committee; the Senate Republican Steering Committee; and the Helsinki Commission on Human Rights. In 1987, he served on the Senate Select Committee to investigate the Iran-Contra Affair. When he retired in 1990, he donated his congressional papers to the University of Idaho Library. He was always a fully engaged citizen and one of the most thoughtful people in the area of public policy.

Jim McClure’s leadership in the Senate led to the creation of the federal Department of Energy and his bipartisan work with then Governor Cecil Andrus to create the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. From 1981 to 1987, when he chaired the United States Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, he was widely regarded as the preeminent expert in Congress on national and international energy issues. Republicans and Democrats alike took notice — and action — when the senior senator from Idaho spoke on the connections between energy and national security and the need for smart policy about nuclear energy and controlling nuclear weapons.

He and his wife, Louise, remained active with their alma mater, serving on the University of Idaho College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences’ Advisory Council and the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival Advisory Board. They have served on the College of Law Advisory Board and the University of Idaho Foundation. In 2001, they established the James McClure Endowment for the Sciences and Public Policy. In 2005, they received the University of Idaho President’s Medallion in recognition of their contributions to the cultural, economic, scientific and social advancement of Idaho and its people, and their exceptional service to the state and nation. In 2007, the University of Idaho recognized the McClures for their significant contributions to the University, state and nation by renaming its Bureau of Public Affairs Research as the James A. and Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research. In 2009, he received the University’s first Legacy of Leading Award and in 2010, the McClures received the Idaho Governor’s Arts Award.

Sen. Jim McClure inspired and led and set an example of service to which all may aspire.