Frank Forrester Church (Senator)

Photo of Frank Forrester Church

Burial Date: April 2, 1984
Location: Section Church-1-1

Was student body president at Boise High and served Idaho for 24 years in the U.S. Senate. He was elected to the Senate in 1956 at the age of 32 and by the time he left 24 years later, he was one of the most senior and respected members of the world's most powerful deliberative body.

Church entered Harvard Law School, but transferred to Stanford University when he thought the cold Massachusetts winter was the cause of a pain in his lower back. The pain did not go away and the doctors soon diagnosed the problem as cancer. After removing glands in his lower abdomen, he was given only a few months to live. However, he rebounded from the illness after another doctor started X-ray treatments.

He graduated from law school in 1950 and returned to Idaho where he began practicing law. Soon after he was elected to the Senate, because of his work on the civil rights bill, then-Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson rewarded the young senator with a seat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In 1964, Church was the floor sponsor of the National Wilderness Act. In 1968 he sponsored the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and gained passage of a ten year ban of federal plans to transfer water from the Pacific Northwest to California. In 1973, Senator Church and Senator Clifford Cast, R, New Jersey, sponsored legislation that forced an end to the U.S. bombing of Cambodia. Working with other Northwest congressmen, Church helped establish the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area which protected the gorge from dam-building. In January 1979, he fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. In 1980, Church won passage of the 2.2 million acre River of No Return Wilderness Area, the largest wilderness area outside Alaska.

Church was 59 years old when he died at home after a three month battle with cancer. He was married to Bethine Clark, the daughter of Idaho's Democratic Governor, Chase Clark. The two became close friends.

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