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About Bethine Church

Bethine Church
Frank and Bethine Church Digital Collection, Albertsons Library

Born February 19, 1923. Daughter of Chase Clark and Jean Burnett Clark. Chase Clark was Governor of Idaho (1940-42) (Democrat) and Federal District Judge.

Died December 21, 2013.

Married to Frank Church at Robinson Bar Ranch, Idaho on June 21, 1947. Frank Church served as United States Senator (1957-81) (Democrat) and died on April 7, 1984.

Two children: Frank Forrester IV, New York City and Chase Clark, Boise. Six grandchildren: Frank Forrest V, Nina Wynn, Jacob, Nathan, Monica Carol and Andrew Cecil.


Boise Junior College 1942
B.A., Sociology, University of Michigan, 1945


  • Chairperson, The Frank Church Institute, Boise State University
  • The Sawtooth Society, President and Founder
  • Governing Council, The Wilderness Society
  • Honorary Board Member, Terry Reilly Health Services
  • Sustaining Member, Boise Junior League
  • Member, Idaho Conservation League
  • Past Honorary Co-Chair, Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial, Boise
  • Past Advisory Board Member, Basque Museum & Cultural Center, Boise
  • Martin Institute for Peace Studies Advisory Board, Moscow, Idaho
  • Trustee, Boise State University Foundation
  • President’s Advisory Committee, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.
  • Better Business Bureau, “Integrity Counts” Contest – Chair of Judges
  • Finance Committee, Idaho State Democratic Party
  • BSU Radio Network Community Advisory Board
  • Emeritus Member, Board of Directors, U.S. Capitol Historical Society, Washington, D.C.
  • Trustee, Meridian House, Washington, D.C.
  • Member, Past President, Center for Responsive Politics, Washington, D.C.
  • Trustee, Future Homemakers of America Foundation, Reston, Virginia
  • Advisory Board, A Television History of Idaho, IP-TV, Boise, Idaho
  • Member, Governor’s Task Force on Home Care, 1991-92, Idaho

A Lifelong Affair CoverLifelong Affair: My Passion for People and Politics, By Bethine Church

This captivating memoir by the wife of the late Idaho senator Frank Church captures the essence of what life was like when, in 1957, as a young couple, the Churches established themselves among the Washington elite and when, later, they fought battles, large and small, both in and out of the political arena. Relating her story simply and sincerely, Church acknowledges that she “was hardly the classic senator’s wife. I have often described my life in Washington as like Cinderella’s: I was either cleaning the fireplace or going to the ball.” Although Church’s role as a senator’s wife demanded active participation in Washington’s social circles, she did more than play hostess; with her political acuity (she was fascinated with politics from her school days), she often advised her husband in matters of state, earning the affectionate nickname “the third Senator from Idaho.”

Bethine Church Collection

The Bethine Church Digital Collection provides access to photographs of Bethine Church, wife of the late U.S. Senator Frank Church. The collection includes photographs of Bethine’s extraordinary life as a wife, mother, as the “third senator” from Idaho, due to her active participation in public life during her husband’s tenure in the Senate, as well as her recent accomplishments in the Idaho Democratic Party and Sawtooth Mountain Recreation Area and Sawtooth Society.

A Tribute to Bethine Church

On May 16, 2009, Bethine Church was awarded an honorary doctorate degree during the commencement ceremony at Boise State University. Mrs. Church was the seventh person to receive an honorary doctorate from Boise State.

Read Bethine Church’s Honorary Doctorate Speech


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Bethine Church in a collage of women who have positively influenced wilderness or conservation (second row from top, third from left).