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Library exhibit celebrates Bethine Church @ 100

Bethine Church posing next to books
Bethine Church, photo courtesy of Special Collections and Archives

Bethine Church, wife of Idaho Senator Frank Church, was born into a politically active family and remained a prominent figure in Idaho politics and civic activities throughout her life.

Born on February 19, 1923, Bethine was the only child of Chase and Jean Clark of Mackay, Idaho. Chase Clark was elected to the state senate in 1933 and served as mayor of Idaho Falls from 1937-1938.

During Bethine’s senior year of high school, Chase won the gubernatorial election and the family moved to Boise in January of 1941. Bethine and Frank met at Boise High and they married in 1947. The couple’s sons, Frank Forrester Church IV and Chase Clark Church, were born in 1948 and 1957 respectively.

A true partner in Frank Church’s senatorial career from 1956-1980, Bethine earned the nickname of “Idaho’s third senator.” She was actively involved in Frank’s four campaigns for the senate and his campaign for the presidency in 1976. She accompanied him on trips around the world to meet with foreign leaders, and was often the life of the party at social events with politicians and celebrities.

After Frank’s death in 1984, Bethine continued to support numerous political, civic, and social organizations. She returned to Boise in 1989 after 33 years in Washington and later claimed the founding of the Sawtooth Society and the Frank Church Institute at Boise State as her proudest accomplishments.

Bethine Church died at age 90 on December 21, 2013.

This exhibit, on display at Albertsons Library through the end of March, celebrates the myriad contributions that Bethine made to Boise, Idaho, and the country. Tireless in her endeavors, what is here is only a snapshot of her seemingly endless pursuits to make the world a better place.

The exhibit was curated by Cheryl Oestreicher, professor and head of Special Collections and Archives.