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The McClure Legacy

Jim and Louise McClure in Public Service to Idaho and the Nation

Jim and Louise McClure in a barber shop with fellow Vandaleers
Jim and Louise pose with their fellow Vandaleers.

Jim McClure grew up in Payette, Idaho and spent his childhood summers working on his grandfather’s ranch just outside of Council, Idaho. He graduated from Payette High School in 1942. According to his sister, Jim displayed the skills of an accomplished debater from a young age. He funneled this natural ability into his studies at University of Idaho’s College of Law and earned his law degree in 1950. 

Musically gifted, Louise Miller grew up in Nezperce, Idaho and began singing at church and other social gatherings at age 3, playing the piano at age 5 and the clarinet in the 5th grade. In 1946, she graduated from Nezperce High School as valedictorian and continued her studies at U of I where she graduated with a degree in music in 1950. 

Jim and Louise met when they joined the U of I choral group, the Vandaleers. Their mutual love of music, respect for intelligence and delight in each other’s conversational skills led to a friendship that was fueled by daily chats at choir practice and after-practice trips to the coffee shop with their fellow Vandaleers. Eventually this friendship deepened and the two were married in September 1950. 

Jim and Louise McClure celebrating after winning the Senate race
Jim and Louise celebrate winning the 1972 U.S. Senate race.

Jim served in the Idaho Senate from 1961 to 1966 and in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1967 to 1973. Jim was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 and served until 1991 when he retired. During his 18 years in the U.S. Senate, he chaired the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources from 1981 to 1987.

Louise was an essential partner in Jim’s political career. She traveled with Jim to international events, hosted dignitaries and led the charge in cultivating relationships that expanded beyond political ideologies. Louise’s leadership, organization and strategic thinking helped Jim navigate a nearly 40-year career in local, state and federal politics. A longtime champion for the arts, Louise was appointed by President George H.W. Bush to a six-year term on the National Council on the Arts.

Portrait of Jim and Louise McClure from the 1970s
Portrait of Jim and Louise, 1970s.

Whether they lived in Idaho or Washington, D.C., the McClures were dedicated to their alma mater. They served on the U of I Foundation Board and the College of Law Advisory Board and were members of the university’s College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences Advancement Council and the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival Advisory Board. Senator McClure donated his Congressional papers to U of I's Library Special Collections upon his retirement in 1991.

In 2007, U of I 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.

Jim and Louise McClure with another person standing in front of a small plane
Louise and Jim traveling around Idaho.

McClure Center

Physical Address:

Capitol Annex Ste. 116

Mailing Address:

James A. & Louise McClure Center for Public Policy Research
Capitol Annex
514 W. Jefferson Street
Boise, ID 83702

Phone: 208-364-4549