Don Samuelson

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Don Samuelson
Don Samuelson.jpg
25th Governor of Idaho
In office
January 2, 1967 – January 4, 1971
LieutenantJack Murphy
Preceded byRobert E. Smylie
Succeeded byCecil Andrus
Personal details
Donald William Samuelson

(1913-07-27)July 27, 1913
Woodhull, Illinois
DiedJanuary 20, 2000(2000-01-20) (aged 86)
Seattle, Washington
Resting placePinecrest Memorial Park, Sandpoint, Idaho
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Ruby A. Samuelson
(m. 1936–2000, his death)[1]
Children1 son, 1 daughter
ResidenceSandpoint, Idaho
Alma materKnox College (attended)
ProfessionSporting goods
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/serviceU.S. Navy
Years of service1944–1946
UnitFarragut NTS, Idaho;
weapons instructor
Battles/warsWorld War II

Donald William Samuelson (July 27, 1913 – January 20, 2000) was a Republican politician from Idaho. He was the state's 25th governor, serving a single term from 1967 to 1971,[2][3][4] and is the state's most recent incumbent governor to lose a re-election bid (1970).

Early years[edit]

Born in Woodhull, Illinois, Samuelson grew up on a farm,[5] and attended Knox College. He and his wife, Ruby A. Samuelson, were married in 1936 and had two children.[5][6]


Samuelson served in the U.S. Navy during World War II 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.[7] He also had an interest in a business that sold and leased mining and logging equipment.[5]


A conservative, Samuelson was encouraged by Governor Robert Smylie to run for the Idaho Senate in 1960. 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,[8][9] Samuelson won handily, 61 to 39%.[10][11]

Following their wins in the early August primary, Samuelson and attorney Charles Herndon of Salmon were slated to face each other in the November general election. In mid-September, while flying from Pocatello to Coeur d'Alene, Herndon and two others were killed in a private plane crash in the central Idaho mountains, northwest of Stanley.[12][13][14][15] The pilot of the twin-engine Piper PA-23 was the only survivor.[16] Occurring only seven weeks before the election, the Democrats nominated the runner-up in the primary, state senator Cecil Andrus of Orofino,[17] whom Samuelson defeated by over 10,000 votes.[18]

During the 1970 gubernatorial campaign, Samuelson supported molybdenum mining in central Idaho's White Cloud Mountains,[19][20] and was defeated for re-election by Andrus[21] – a staunch opponent of the mining development – and returned to private life.

Following Samuelson's win in 1966, Democrats won the next six gubernatorial elections in Idaho, through 1990.

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][22]


  1. ^ "Former first lady of Idaho dies at 88". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). 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. (Idaho). Associated Press. p. C1.
  3. ^ "Governor Donald W. Samuelson". Gem of the Mountains. University of Idaho. 1967. p. 20.
  4. ^ "Governor Donald W. Samuelson". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1969. p. 33.
  5. ^ a b c Lloyd, Paul G.S. (August 4, 1966). "Winner foresaw success". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. p. 1.
  6. ^ "Don Samuelson". National Governors Association. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
  7. ^ Love, Marianne (Summer 1996). "Sailors Ahoy!". Sandpoint Magazine. Keokee Co. Publishing, Inc.
  8. ^ Boissat, Bruce (July 30, 1966). "Governor Smylie in deep trouble". Owosso Argus-Times. (Michigan). NEA. p. 4.
  9. ^ "Goldwater isn't taking sides on Smylie-Samuelson". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. July 29, 1966. p. 1.
  10. ^ Myers, Robert (August 4, 1966). "1964 post-election fight seen as factor in Smylie's sound defeat by Samuelson". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. p. 1.
  11. ^ "Smylie loses, Herndon holds edge on Andrus". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. August 3, 1966. p. 1.
  12. ^ "Idaho nominee for governor is crash victim". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. September 15, 1966. p. 1.
  13. ^ "Idaho Democratic candidate is killed". The Bulletin. (Bend, Oregon). UPI. September 15, 1966. p. 1.
  14. ^ "Idaho crsh claims governor candidate". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). Associated Press. September 15, 1966. p. 4A.
  15. ^ "Air crash kills Idaho candidate for governor". Morning-Record. (Meriden, Connecticut). Associated Press. September 16, 1966. p. 17.
  16. ^ "SEA67A0023, Piper PA-23, N4242P". NTSB. September 14, 1966. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  17. ^ "Andrus Democratic nominee". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. September 21, 1966. p. 13.
  18. ^ "Conservatism given credit by Samuelson". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. November 10, 1966. p. 1.
  19. ^ "Samuelson reiterates support of mining in White Clouds". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. September 17, 1969. p. 1.
  20. ^ Kenyon, Quane (April 29, 1985). "Priest Lake question colors Idaho politics". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. p. A1.
  21. ^ "Andrus tops Idaho vote". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. November 4, 1970. p. 1.
  22. ^ "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