May 23, 1935 – July 24, 2018
On July 24, 2018, Richard Merritt (Dick) Shotwell, our well-loved brother, father, grandfather and great grandfather, ‘. . . slipped the surly bonds of earth’, and as was his belief, rejoined his wife Jody in ‘the high un-trespassed sanctity of space.’
Dick was born May 23, 1935, to Maude (Ritter) and Merritt E. Shotwell in Twin Falls. Dick and his younger sister Evelyn Shotwell Cates are the second of five generations of Twin Falls residents descended from William M. Shotwell, who homesteaded land on what is now Grandview Drive North. Being raised here in the shadow of pioneer ancestors gave us all a strong sense of place and belonging. Dad passed his childhood and youth in a great little house, on the ragged edge of town at the time, on Buchanan Street. He graduated from Twin Falls High School in 1953. He met Jody Guyot their first day at Idaho State College in Pocatello, in line to join the choral club. What followed were dance cards with only ‘Dick’ penned in for each dance. Dick and Jody fell deeply in love and married in 1956. They spent their honeymoon summer on a fire lookout near Salmon, Idaho, with a notoriously unreliable old Chevy that ran only when it wasn’t blocking the well-used logging road. Dad finished college at Montana State University as an ROTC cadet, specializing in Electrical Engineering. The Army then swept Second Lieutenant Shotwell to Fort Bliss in El Paso, where he worked in an artillery unit. Karen and Steve were born in El Paso. Son David followed in Twin Falls.
Dad and Mom returned to Twin Falls where Dad joined his father at Shotwell’s Utility Service Company, later re-named Shotwell’s Incorporated, an electrical contracting business. Dad and Grampa created a successful business in the Magic Valley and beyond. Dad held various 8th District offices in the National Electrical Contractors’ Association. He also continued his military service in the Idaho National Guard, from which he retired as Major after 21 years.
Ever gazing skyward at the sound of any aircraft, Dad became a private pilot in the 1960’s and was always up for cross-country flights, which sometimes stranded us in places like Rock Springs. After he retired, Dad and son David built a Kitfox Experimental Airplane. Flying it is like mounting the wings of a dragonfly. Then they tackled a greater kit-plane challenge, the Murphy Moose, a beautiful monster of a backcountry airplane.
Always an electronics enthusiast, Dad became a ham radio operator, W7GDA, while in El Paso. He even convinced his XYL(wife Jody) and daughter Karen to earn their licenses (W7GCX and K7CQQ). He was active in Ham club most of his adult life and helped maintain the mountaintop ham repeaters for Magic Valley. He was also involved in bringing KBSU public radio to Twin Falls. He built many Heathkit electronics devices over the years. Dad was always available to lend his talents to others. Our uncle reminds us that Dad more than once prevented serious electrical accidents in the extended family by being on hand to connect various household electrical projects to grid power. When Dad and sons Steve and David acquired Whitewater Ranch in the Salmon River backcountry, Dad loved tinkering with the Sirca 1897 Pelton Turbine and Govenor which generates hydro power for the ranch.
Dick loved the outdoors, grew up in Boy Scouts, and taught us to fish, tie bowlines and ‘police the campsite’. Loving wind and flight, Dad learned to sail . . . which is, after all, flight over the waves. Dad and Mom spent countless days backpacking in remote mountain regions of Idaho. Following retirement from his business in 1994, Dad and Mom hit the road in their fifth-wheel. Some of their more memorable adventures involved amateur archaeology with the USFS Passport-in-Time (PIT) program, which included restoration of the fire lookout at Slate Creek near Riggins. They traveled to Haiti to help at a Baptist mission church there. They also loved their trips to Ireland, Mexico, Alaska, Europe and the Panama Canal.
Dick and Jody gave a precious gift to our whole family when in 1965 or so they and Dick’s parents moved a two-room log cabin from Kimberly to a rocky, flower-covered river-bottom lot in Ketchum. ‘The Cabin’ was our home away from home, our base for outdoor adventures, a place where daily stress could be left behind, and where we created the best of family memories. Some years later, the Cabin was added onto and quickly became a gathering place for many.
We remember Dad for his dedication to civic improvement and quiet philanthropy. When the city held Christmas celebrations at City Park, the trees lit in spectacular sequence because of Dad’s expertise with wiring. Dad was fascinated by space and spacecraft, and helped fund equipment for the Herrett Planetarium. Mom and Dad loved classical and folk music, and were perennial supporters of the Community Concerts. Dad was an active and committed Rotarian, Twin Falls and Filer Baptist church member, Toastmaster, and QB’s. He served on the Magic Valley Regional Airport Board, and was active in many other clubs and civic projects. Dad had many, many friends, deeply enjoyed their company, and was always ready to lend a hand. Most memorably, for his entire adult life, he was unfailingly loving and loyal to his wife. In later years Dad visited Mom at times every day at a care center, even after she no longer recognized him.
Dick leaves behind his sister Evelyn Cates and her children; Jody’s brothers Tom (Gretchen) and Don (Karen) Guyot and their children; daughter Karen (Bill Ward) of Moscow. Daughter Mary Pike (Steve) of Sisters Oregon, sons Steve (Kathy) of Twin Falls, and Dave (Cornelia) of Selma, Oregon; grandchildren Lauren Dolcini, Jessica and Austin Shotwell, Milo and Dante Flint, and two great-granddaughters, as well as cousins and extended family.
A memorial service honoring Dick and his life will be held Saturday, September 22 at 10:30 AM at the Filer Baptist Church in Filer, Idaho. In lieu of flowers or gifts, please make a donation in Dads name to a charity of your choice. Since Dad succumbed to cancer, donations to cancer research are also appropriate. Those who wish may share memories and condolences on his memorial page at www.magicvalleyfuneralhome.com.
‘W7GDA, W7GDA. This is K7CQQ. 73’s (best regards) and 88’s (hugs and kisses), until we see you on the heavenly Ham bands. We hope that God has passed you on your flight physical, given you a pilot’s silver wings, and the fleetest of craft! We love you, Dad. K7CQQ clear.’