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Jack Simplot Made a Difference

May 30 2008 by Peter Morrill

J.R. SimplotOn Sunday, May 25, Idaho lost an icon. Much has been said in recent days about the contributions of J.R. "Jack" Simplot to our state and nation, including a special DIALOGUE this past Thursday.

Mr. Simplot has supported Idaho Public Television numerous times over the past thirty years. From his on-air appearances during our March Festival fundraising campaigns, to his generous contributions to PROCEEDING ON THROUGH A BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY: A HISTORY OF IDAHO television series, the VISIONS OF IDAHO history series for Idaho schools, and the Idaho Public Television Endowment, Jack Simplot made a significant difference to Idaho Public Television.

On a personal note, I had the privilege to meet with him frequently over the years. My highlight was in 1990, spending the day photographing him at his childhood home near Declo, Idaho. During that visit, Jack showed me the hog pen in which he raised the pigs that started his legendary business career. We also met with his sister, Peg. They tearfully reminisced about their love for and memories of their mother.

In the first chapter of Men To Match My Mountains, Irving Stone wrote, "The time, the place, the cast . . . this is the story of the opening of a land and the building of the civilization." Jack Simplot was clearly one of the lead actors in that cast, which transformed Idaho from a western wilderness into a modern society.

Jack, thanks for your contributions to our world. You gave it your all, and you made it better.

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