“She was not the usual steel hand inside a velvet glove. She was a velvet hand without a glove, a gentle hand and mind that taught three generations of Idaho elected leaders how to behave and how to do their best and utmost for the state she loved.”– Retired Lewiston Tribune journalist Bill Hall
“Lioness of Idaho, Louise Shadduck and the Power of Polite,” 239 pages, by Mike Bullard
A recent book listed the 100 most influential people in Idaho history, 95 of them were men.
“It ain’t truth,” says Mike Bullard, Coeur d’Alene author of the biography “Lioness of Idaho, Louise Shadduck and the Power of Polite” out this month.
With only a high school diploma Louise Shadduck rose from pre-Depression-era farm girl to reporter at the Coeur d’Alene Press to a pioneering woman in Idaho’s state cabinet office in the 1950s, She was the first female administrative assistant of the governor; interacted with six different presidents; served as president of the National Federation of Press Women; spoke on national television advocating President Eisenhower’s atomic energy policy; and addressed audiences in Red China before the end of the Cold War. As secretary of commerce she helped reinvent the Department of Commerce and Development and led the state into the 10 best economic years of Idaho’s modern history, Bullard says.
“I think I’ve found somebody important in our history who was just buried,” says Bullard, a retired pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Coeur d’Alene where Shadduck was a member. When she died in 2008 he officiated her funeral, which she asked be kept private and requested that no politicians speak at. Many of the state’s top officials filled the front rows and Bullard began to wonder at Shadduck’s clout.
“She never talked about herself,” says Bullard, who was her pastor for 15 years. “All people know is what she did for them.”
Shadduck climbed to the top by remembering people’s names and their stories. Through research and extensive interviews with family, friends, colleagues and public officials like Dirk Kempthorne, Phil Batt and Brad Little, Bullard traces the arc of her career and her influence on Idaho’s history.
When Shadduck was 51 she was showing visitors the Sun Valley area when she saw a plane disappear into the woods nearby. She stopped her car and ran through the snow toward the accident. She was one of the first on site, climbing into the wreckage to comfort the sole survivor, a young mother. A photographer took a picture of her carrying the woman’s dead baby out of the woods. It appeared in the Idaho Statesman the next day. In the same paper on another page she was shown receiving an award at a national journalism convention that night in Sun Valley, where she never mentioned what had happened just hours before. Her family didn’t know about it either.
It’s one incident in an eventful life now brought to light in Bullard’s self-published book.
The book is available online at louiseshadduckbiography.com. Bullard will speak at the Coeur d’Alene Library at 6 p.m. Sept. 12. The book is $19.95 paperback, $34.95 hardcover.