BOISE — Idaho rancher Bruce Newcomb received a “Commitment to Idaho” award from Boise State University’s School of Public Service May 9.
Newcomb served 20 years in the Idaho Legislature and his eight years as speaker of the House make him the longest-serving speaker in state history.
School of Public Service Dean Corey Cook said Newcomb epitomizes what it means to be a legislator.
“There’s no corner of the state or public policy issue that hasn’t been impacted by his leadership and service,” Cook said during the award ceremony. “He is a leader and a mentor.”
Cook said that all across the state, “If you just say Bruce, people know who you’re talking about.”
Newcomb, a life-long rancher from Buhl, held leadership positions in the legislature for 18 years and currently serves as special assistant to BSU president Bob Kustra and as the university’s director of government relations.
He is married to Celia Gould, who is director of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture and served 16 years in the legislature.
“Together, what a team they’ve been for the state of Idaho,” Kustra said during the award ceremony.
Lt. Gov. Brad Little, a rancher who served with Newcomb in the legislature, told Capital Press that the former speaker “was always about doing the right thing.”
“I was in lots and lots of leadership meetings with Bruce and he was always a big-picture guy,” Little said. “He always wanted to know, how do we make Idaho a better place.”
Newcomb, a Republican, said he was inspired to enter public service after hearing President John F. Kennedy’s famous, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” speech in 1961.
“That’s when public service got into my heart,” he said.
Newcomb quoted Edmund Burke — “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men to do nothing” — as a way to encourage others to get involved.
“So if you are not involved, get involved,” he said.
This is the school’s second “Commitment to Idaho” award. Last year’s award went to Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho.
The award honors someone who has gone above and beyond in their commitment to the state, said Jim Munkres of the School of Public Service.