Lioness of Idaho

The Life of Louise Shadduck

By Mike Bullard

Photos Courtesy of Mike Bullard

After I retired as a minister, I decided to write about my friend Louise Shadduck, whom I knew was a great role model for young women, although at that time I had no idea of just how colorful and influential she had really been. Digging through boxes of her papers in the basement of the library at the University of Idaho, I saw photos of her with U.S. presidents and world leaders, and newspaper articles about how she changed the whole state. My book, Lioness of Idaho: Louise Shadduck and the Power of Polite (2013) documents how, as Secretary of Commerce and Development, she gained national attention for leading Idaho into its ten best economic years of the twentieth century. It tells how this high school graduate became an administrator for two governors and for a U.S. senator and U.S. congressman, a recognized international leader among women journalists, author of five books, and was once one of the most celebrated citizens in Idaho.

The following story excerpted from my book shows a different side of her. In private life she was a fast-driving, horseback-riding sister of six brothers from a pre-Depression Idaho farm. When she saw a small plane crash in the distance on an Idaho mountain, she thought nothing of plowing through knee-deep snow in her sneakers to help a stranger in trouble. Yet she never told most of her friends and family. Starting only with an unusual clipping in the Idaho Statesman, I searched for a year to put together the accounts and find someone who was there.

A life and death ordeal on a snowy mountainside was the last thing on the minds of Louise or her staffers Jan and Kathleen as they set out driving from Boise on an eighty-degree June day in 1967.

Louise had hired Janice Moulton to help with much of the department’s copious writing work, and Jan became, in effect, the department’s publicity officer. Eighteen-year-old Kathleen Barrett had been taken on just a year before as a part-time intern.

One of Louise’s favorite pastimes was introducing young adults to celebrities who might inspire them and help their careers. The three were headed for Sun Valley to attend the annual convention of the powerful National Federation of Press Women where Louise could introduce Jan and Kathleen to some of the greatest female role models in the country.

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