James Lyle McPherson

Longtime north central Idaho resident James Lyle McPherson, 82, died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease on Tuesday, July 21, 2020.

He was born Sept. 2, 1937, to Charles Franklin McPherson and Maude Myrtle (Blewitt) McPherson, in Grangeville. The fifth of six children, as a boy he lived in Elk City, Kooskia, various small towns in Montana, Washington and Oregon.

They finally settled in Lewiston, graduating from Lewiston High School in 1955. He then attended Lewis-Clark Normal School, where he met the love of his life and future wife, Edna Carol Boutinen. They married on June 7, 1957, and were seldom apart for the next 63 years.

Jim began teaching in the Wallace School District on the day after his 20th birthday, spending eight years as an elementary teacher before becoming the elementary and middle school principal in Weippe for 12 years. At the same time, he completed his bachelor’s degree and then a master’s degree at the University of Idaho.

He then spent 18 years as a superintendent in Craigmont and Nezperce. He served in numerous state organizations, and was president of the Idaho School Superintendents Association, the Idaho Association of School Administrators and the Idaho High School Activities Association. He was named Idaho Superintendent of the Year for the 1991-92 school year.

A witty man of intelligence and integrity, he had a rare knack for leading and communicating with all kinds of people. Besides fellow educators, he counted loggers, farmers and mill workers among his many friends.

A model father, Jim encouraged his three children to take part in numerous activities, almost never missing a concert, play or ballgame. When his kids played high school sports, he often volunteered to drive the team bus. He frequently coached youth teams on which his children and grandchildren played and as a volunteer track and field coach for Highland High School of Craigmont. He also was an athlete himself, including playing basketball in college, golf, town team basketball and city league softball.

A lifelong learner, Jim read voraciously and was proud that all three of his children earned advanced university degrees. An avid outdoorsman, he hunted, fished and camped throughout his life. After retirement, he and Edna retired in Lewiston so that they could be near their beloved grandchildren, spending much of their time attending their activities and imparting many of the same skills and ethics that he previously had passed on to his children.

He and Edna enjoyed traveling, visiting each of the 50 states, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico and Belize. They often lived in their RV, once traveling from Idaho to Key West, Fla., and then to above the Arctic Circle in Alaska during a single year. They also often volunteered with the Forest Service and other organizations, including in Florida and for 12 winters in Arizona.

Jim is survived by his wife, Edna; sister Gay Carol Brooks of Virginia; son James (Joanna) of Spokane; son Guy McPherson of Maitland, Fla.; daughter Carol (Dick) Richel of Eagle; grandson Nicholas (Bethany) Wallace of Salem, Ore.; granddaughter Aila (Greg Harvey) Wallace of Vancouver, Wash.; great-grandsons Colton and Grayson Wallace; and “honorary daughter,” Sheila Merrigan, of Tucson, Ariz.

He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Dean and Miner; and sisters Glendora Robbins and Charlene Tweedy.

Per Jim’s wishes, no services will be held. After cremation, his ashes will be spread near one of the many high mountain Idaho lakes that he had fished (usually catching more fish than anyone else, using flies he had tied himself). Memorial donations may go to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, or to a neighbor in need.

Recommended for you