Don Samuelson

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For the Minnesota legislator, see Don Samuelson (Minnesota politician).
Don Samuelson
25th Governor of Idaho
In office
January 2, 1967 – January 4, 1971
Lieutenant Jack Murphy
Preceded by Robert Smylie
Succeeded by Cecil Andrus
Personal details
Born Donald William Samuelson
(1913-07-27)July 27, 1913
Woodhull, Illinois
Died January 20, 2000(2000-01-20) (aged 86)
Seattle, Washington
Resting place Pinecrest Memorial Park
Sandpoint, Idaho
Nationality United States
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Ruby A. Samuelson
(m. 1936–2000, his death)[1]
Children 1 son, 1 daughter
Residence Sandpoint
Alma mater Knox College (attended)
Profession Sporting goods
Religion Methodist
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch U.S. Navy
Years of service 1944–1946
Unit Farragut NTS, Idaho;
weapons instructor
Battles/wars World War II

Donald William Samuelson (July 27, 1913 – January 20, 2000) was a Republican politician from Idaho. He was the 25th Governor of Idaho, serving a single term from 1967 to 1971.[2]

Early years[edit]

Born in Woodhull, Illinois, Samuelson grew up on a farm[3] and attended Knox College. He and his wife, Ruby A. Samuelson, were married in 1936 and had two children.[3][4]


Samuelson served in the U.S. Navy during World War II[5] as a weapons instructor and gunsmith at the Farragut Naval Training Station, a major inland training facility at Lake Pend Oreille in northern Idaho.

After the war, Samuelson stayed in the area; he brought his family out from Illinois and opened a sporting goods store in nearby Sandpoint.[6] He also had an interest in a business that sold and leased mining and logging equipment.[3]


A conservative, Samuelson was encouraged to run for the state in 1960 by Governor Robert Smylie. Samuelson won and was re-elected in 1962 and 1964. After the Democratic landslide of 1964, he decided to run for governor in 1966, which was still held by three-term incumbent Smylie, a moderate Republican from Boise and former state attorney general. In a heated race that drew national attention to the Republican gubernatorial primary,[7][8] Samuelson won handily, 61 to 39%.[9][10]

Following their wins in the early August primary, Samuelson was slated to face attorney Charles Herndon of Salmon in the November general election. In mid-September, while flying from Pocatello to Coeur d'Alene, Herndon and two others were killed in a plane crash in the central Idaho mountains, northwest of Stanley.[11] The pilot of the twin-engine Piper PA-23 was the only survivor.[12] Occurring only seven weeks before the election, the Democrats nominated the runner-up in the primary, state senator Cecil Andrus of Orofino,[13] whom Samuelson defeated by over 10,000 votes.[14] During the 1970 gubernatorial campaign, Samuelson supported molybdenum mining in central Idaho's White Cloud Mountains,[15][16] and was defeated for re-election by Andrus[17] – a staunch opponent of the mining development – and returned to private life.

Election results[edit]

Idaho Gubernatorial Elections: Results 1966–1970
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
1966 Cecil Andrus 93,744 37.1% Don Samuelson 104,586 41.4% Perry Swisher Independent 30,913 12.2% Phillip Jungert Independent 23,139 9.2%
1970 Cecil Andrus 128,004 52.2% Don Samuelson (inc.) 117,108 47.8%


Samuelson died at age 86 of a heart attack on January 20, 2000, at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. He is interred at Pinecrest Memorial Park in Sandpoint, Idaho[2][18]


  1. ^ "Former first lady of Idaho dies at 88". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. April 17, 2002. p. 8A. 
  2. ^ a b Warbis, Mark (January 21, 2000). "Ex-Gov. Don Samuelson dies at 86 of heart attack". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. p. C1. 
  3. ^ a b c Lloyd, Paul G.S. (August 4, 1966). "Winner foresaw success". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. p. 1. 
  4. ^ "Don Samuelson". National Governors Association. Retrieved 25 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "Don William Samuelson". Find A Grave. Retrieved September 25, 2012. 
  6. ^ Love, Marianne (Summer 1996). "Sailors Ahoy!". Sandpoint Magazine. Keokee Co. Publishing, Inc. 
  7. ^ Boissat, Bruce (July 30, 1966). "Governor Smylie in deep trouble". Owosso Argus-Times. NEA. p. 4. 
  8. ^ "Goldwater isn't taking sides on Smylie-Samuelson". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. July 29, 1966. p. 1. 
  9. ^ Myers, Robert (August 4, 1966). "1964 post-election fight seen as factor in Smylie's sound defeat by Samuelson". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. p. 1. 
  10. ^ "Smylie loses, Herndon holds edge on Andrus". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. August 3, 1966. p. 1. 
  11. ^ "Air crash kills Idaho candidate for governor". Morning-Record. Meriden, CT. Associated Press. September 16, 1966. p. 17. 
  12. ^ "SEA67A0023, Piper PA-23, N4242P". NTSB. September 14, 1966. Retrieved March 15, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Andrus Democratic nominee". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. September 21, 1966. p. 13. 
  14. ^ "Conservatism given credit by Samuelson". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. November 10, 1966. p. 1. 
  15. ^ "Samuelson reiterates support of mining in White Clouds". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Associated Press. September 17, 1969. p. 1. 
  16. ^ Kenyon, Quane (April 29, 1985). "Priest Lake question colors Idaho politics". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. p. A1. 
  17. ^ "Andrus tops Idaho vote". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Associated Press. November 4, 1970. p. 1. 
  18. ^ "Don Samuelson". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 25 September 2012. 

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Robert E. Smylie
Republican Party nominee, Governor of Idaho
1966 (won), 1970 (lost)
Succeeded by
Jack M. Murphy
Political offices
Preceded by
Robert E. Smylie
Governor of Idaho
January 2, 1967 – January 4, 1971
Succeeded by
Cecil D. Andrus