Remembering some remarkable people during the holiday season

As we enjoy the company of our friends and families during the holidays, fond thoughts turn to special people who have departed during 2022. We all have memories of remarkable people who were important to us during our life journey. There are three memorable people, dear friends all, who played a significant role in my journey.

Donna Jones, who served as Idaho State Controller from January 2007 to October 2012, was a special person and dedicated public servant. She was the first woman to hold that position. A resident of Payette, she previously served in the Idaho House of Representatives from 1987 to 1998 in three different Payette County legislative districts. Donna was twice appointed by Governor Cecil Andrus to fill vacancies in two of those districts. In the interim between her legislative service and election as Controller, she served as Executive Director of the Idaho Real Estate Commission.

I became acquainted with Donna in 1982 when I was running for Attorney General. She and her Payette friend, Mary Hartung, were early supporters, who helped put me in office. I was happy to return the favor by encouraging her to run for Controller in 2002, when she came close to winning, and again in 2006, when Idahoans recognized her as the best candidate. She proved the voters to be correct by a remarkable record of service until serious injuries she received in an auto accident caused her to step out of office. Donna passed away on July 8, leaving a rich legacy of service to the Gem State.

Glen Black, who left us on March 21, was not a household name in Idaho and that was just fine with him. However, people throughout the State witnessed the fruits of the labors of Glen and his dear wife, Peggy. They built up the largest Idaho-based hotel brand, AmeriTel Inns, starting in the early 1990s. Glen began his business career as owner of a service station in Battle Mountain, Nevada. He built some residential rental units in Battle Mountain, then acquired hotels in California, Nebraska and Nevada and then moved to Boise where he built the AmeriTel chain.

Glen hired me as his attorney after building his first AmeriTel Inn in Elko. His business plan was to build high quality, moderately priced hotels in cities where the competition was rather time worn. It was wildly successful, resulting in AmeriTels in Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Coeur d’Alene and Boise. He later expanded to Utah and Washington.

Glen was a dream client–he followed my legal advice and was always thankful. But, more than being one of my best clients, he was a great friend. Even though he achieved marvelous success, he remained a humble, thoughtful person. He treated his staff well and made rooms free of charge to people who were in town with a child in the hospital. When he turned the business over to his children, they decided to affiliate the hotels with national chains so the AmeriTel name disappeared from cities across the State.
Nevertheless, Glen Black was a graphic demonstration of the American dream, deserving some of the recognition that he sought to avoid during his successful life.

A lawyer friend from my Jerome days, Eugene Fredericksen, passed away on December 3. When I started my law practice in 1973, Gene was kind enough to help me orient myself to small town law practice. He was the elected county prosecutor, but also maintained a private practice. Law school teaches what the law is but does not tell you how to practice it. He was a tremendous help.

When I decided to run for Congress against George Hansen in 1978, Gene served as my campaign treasurer. When that venture did not succeed, he served in that same role when I made a second unsuccessful attempt in 1980. Gene served as treasurer once again when I ran for Attorney General in 1982 and won the office. His help with other county prosecutors was essential to that victory. I never quite figured out whether he was that patient or whether he just wanted to get me out of town. Regardless, he was a great friend. His son, Eric, now serves as State Appellate Public Defender.

I’ll be remembering Donna, Glen and Gene during this holiday season. I would urge others to embrace their special friends and family, but do it while they are still with us.

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