Obituary of Bill Roden
William C. (Bill) Roden, our beloved father, grandfather, great grandfather and friend passed away at his home on Monday, July 8, 2019.
Bill was born on February 11, 1929 to William and Dorothy Roden, in Camas, WA. He spent his early school years in Boise until World War II. In the summer of 1943, Bill’s Dad worked for the Public Works Authority (WPA), and he was transferred to Topaz, UT to build the Japanese Internment Camp and later serve as the procurement officer. So as Bill was entering the 9th grade, his parents moved the family to Topaz. Bill’s parents were against the internment, so they decided that the family would live in the camp so that Bill and his sister Sharon could experience first-hand the impact of the country’s decision to intern the Japanese.
Bill and his sister were the only Caucasian children in the camp, so when Bill started his freshman year in high-school, he was elected class president. He soon realized that he was elected because of the color of his skin since the Japanese students knew he would be the most effective student to deal with the administration. In 1944, Bill’s family was transferred to the internment camp in Minidoka, ID where he started the 10th grade. It was during Bill’s time in Minidoka that he learned to jitterbug. He loved to dance so he and a couple of the other kids in the camp started doing exhibition jitterbug performances. His love of dancing continued throughout his life. During his sophomore year, President Roosevelt died. Bill thought the internees would be happy because President Roosevelt had signed the orders to intern the Japanese. It was exactly the opposite. They held Christian, Shinto, and Buddhist funeral services in honor of the president. The Japanese were in mourning because they had such a huge respect for the office of the president.
Bill’s parents had purchased Sawtooth Lodge in Grandjean, ID at the foot of the Sawtooth Mountains in 1938 from Babe Hansen. Bill’s parents ran the lodge in the summer through the fall hunting season. Bill spent his summers working at the lodge cleaning cabins, feeding livestock, and leading trail rides. The lodge closed the summer of 1942 due to war rationing and the lack of gas for travel. The lodge reopened in the summer of 1943. During the two years Bill’s family were at the internment camps, Bill’s mother would take him and his sister to Grandjean and run the lodge while Bill’s dad stayed at the camp. During the summer of 1945 the war ended and the camps were closed. Bill was at Grandjean when the camps closed, so he never had a chance to say goodbye to his classmates and close friends he made in Minidoka. He always felt a sense of loss having not been able to say goodbye.
After closing Sawtooth Lodge for the season in 1945 the family moved back to Boise and into their house on 16th Street. Bill started his junior year at Boise high and was involved in several school clubs. He was the director of the high school radio station which was aired over KIVI radio every Saturday morning. After graduating from Boise High School in 1947, Bill received a small scholarship to Boise Junior College. He was a liberal arts major and minored in skiing and bridge. He almost didn’t graduate because he barely passed Zoology, but otherwise he was a straight A student. Between classes, skiing and bridge, Bill worked at the Hotel Boise as a bell hop and elevator operator. Later he worked for Carl Riley Menswear and one Christmas he worked at JC Penny’s selling women’s shoes. The worst job I ever had he always said.
In the spring of 1948 Bill and his future bride, Betty Hill would meet. Bill went to lunch one afternoon with his friend Wayne Wright at the Mode Tea Room. After they were seated, Bill noticed that he and Wayne were the only two men in the restaurant. They discovered that there was a fashion show going on and Betty was one of the models. Betty knew who Bill was because they were scheduled to go on a blind date later that week. So Betty walked over to Bill and asked loud enough for everyone to hear, “would you like to see the petticoats women are wearing these days?” With that, she lifted her dress to show him one of the latest fashionable petticoats. Although embarrassed, Bill was taken and never let Betty go from then on. Bill and Betty were married on August 20, 1950, at St. Michaels Cathedral in Boise.
After Bill and Betty were married they moved to Moscow so Bill could attend law school. They lived in an 18 foot trailer that only had cold water and no bathroom. Married housing at the time. Bill always said it wasn’t much, but they had a lot of fun fixing it up and getting started with their life together. Bill graduated from law school in 1953. He had a deferment from the draft, so after law school Bill went to basic training at Fort Ord in Monterey, CA. About half-way through basic, Bill was asked to join the Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps. He was transferred to Fort Holabird in Baltimore, MD. After being trained as a special agent for army intelligence he was assigned to a post in Philadelphia, PA. Once stationed, Betty joined him and they lived in Haddonfield, NJ. In the Counter Intelligence Corps, Bill conducted background investigations on people who needed high-level security clearance for posts in the government. After a “long two years”, Betty always said, they were driving across the desert into the Boise valley.
After returning to Boise in 1956, Bill needed a job. Bill’s dad said there was a job in the prosecuting attorney’s office and told him to call Blaine Evans the Ada County Prosecuting Attorney. Therefore, Bill called Blaine and Blaine said, “You need to have Republican endorsements to get the job.” Before Blain knew it, he had more endorsements for Bill and finally told him to “call them off.” Blaine said he never had so many endorsements come in for a potential employee. The ironic part was that Bill’s parents were Democrats, and Bill really had no political affiliation at the time, but Boise was a small town, so after a few phone calls from Bill’s dad the recommendations came pouring in. As a result, Bill became a Republican and that began his long and illustrious legal and political career.
Bill served one year as an Ada County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, and two years as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Idaho, where he was counsel for the Department of Law Enforcement, the Department of Finance, and the Public Utilities Commission.
In 1958, he was elected to the office of Prosecuting Attorney for Ada County. He entered the private practice of law in 1960 with Blaine Evans and Claude Marcus, and was also elected to the Idaho Senate, representing Ada County, Idaho. He served eight years in the Senate, during which time he also served as Assistant Majority Leader and concluded his four Senate terms as Senate Majority Leader. Bill was most proud of his part in writing the first civil rights legislation for Idaho, writing the Idaho Commercial Code and the Youth Rehabilitation Act, which was the first laws for youth and the judicial system creating juvenile courts.
After leaving the Senate, Bill began to focus much of his law practice on legislative affairs. Bill combined an active law practice with legislative work on behalf of diverse national and state clients concerning major legislative and administrative matters before the Idaho legislature and local and state administrative agencies. As one of the first Idaho lobbyists to represent multiple clients Bill paved the way for scores of lobbyists who have followed in that path.
His role has been not only as a legislative and public affairs advisor to his clients, but as the primary draftsman of significant and complex legislation, including the Idaho Telecommunications Act of 1988, which achieved substantial regulatory reform for the telecommunications industry in Idaho.
Bill was called “a dean among Idaho lobbyists,” and since 1992, he “routinely ranked first in surveys of legislators asked who the most influential lobbyist at the Statehouse is.”
Hopkins Roden transitioned to an of counsel role in 2006. Bill shared a love of the outdoors and especially enjoyed the beautiful mountain and outdoor activities at their summer home on Payette Lake.
He was active in a number of civic organizations, and served on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Idaho Historical Museum, Buy Idaho, Inc., and the Idaho Tax Foundation. He was a devote member of St. Michaels Church. Bill felt that his mission in life was to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.” Proverbs 30:8
Bill is survived by his sister, Sharon Beaver; Children, daughter, Lindy Mansfield (Rick); son Tim Roden (Brian Austin); Grandchildren, Leeann Curry (Don), James Mansfield, Jason Mansfield, Lauren Austin, Meghan Austin, and Janet Austin; Great-grandchildren; Zach, Piper, and Liam Curry; Gibson, Oliver and Nora Mansfield, Dylan, Leighton, Owen, and Burton Austin. Bill was predeceased by his parents, Bill and Dorothy Roden and his wife Betty Roden.
A Celebration of Bill’s life will be held on Sunday, July 14, 2:00 pm at St. Michael’s Cathedral. A reception will follow at the Riverside Hotel.
In lieu of flowers, please make a contribution to the Women’s and Children’s Alliance or St. Michaels Discretionary Fund.
Condolences can be made on Summers Funeral Homes website located at www.summersfuneral.com.To send flowers to the family of Bill Roden, please visit Tribute Store