Bill Roden

Attorney, lobbyist and former Idaho lawmaker Bill Roden testifies before the House State Affairs Committee hearing in favor a bill that would add sexual orientation and gender identity protections to the state’s Human Rights Act, at the state Capitol building, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, in Boise, Idaho. The historic and emotional hearing lasted for three days, with testimony overwhelmingly in favor; the committee then killed the bill on a party-line vote. Roden was an original co-sponsor of Idaho’s first civil rights law in 1961.

Bill Roden, an eight-term state senator and former Senate majority leader, and one of Idaho’s most prominent lawyer/lobbyists for decades, has died at his home at the age of 90. Roden’s full obituary is online here; I highly recommend reading it. He had a fascinating life. Gov. Brad Little issued this statement on Roden’s passing:

“For nearly 60 years, Bill Roden helped shape the quality of life we enjoy in Idaho. Bill was always generous in giving his advice and counsel to new legislators and governors, and his advice was not just welcome but needed. Those of us serving in public life aspire to what Bill represented. He was civil at all times, stood for good governance, and worked tirelessly to make Idaho a great place to live. Bill left a huge mark on Idaho that will last for generations to come. He now joins his wife, Betty, without whom Bill would not have contributed so much to Idaho. Teresa and I extend our condolences to Bill’s family and loved ones.”

Roden is survived by his sister, Sharon Beaver; two children, daughter Lindy Mansfield and son Tim Roden; six grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. A celebration of his life will be held Sunday, July 14, at 2 p.m. at St. Michael’s Cathedral, with a reception following at the Riverside Hotel. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Women’s and Children’s Alliance or St. Michael’s Discretionary Fund.

Here’s a link to one of my favorite recent Bill Roden stories, from 2015 when he was representing the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. He also was one of the original co-sponsors of Idaho’s first civil rights bill in 1961, and was at the center of major legislation and issues debated in Idaho for many decades. His obituary says that he felt his mission in life was to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,” from Proverbs 30:08.

You can read my full story here at

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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