Losing a friend is never easy, no matter the age or reason. Saying goodbye to someone at the end of a long illness might be easier, but it is still difficult. Losing a friend suddenly is just plain hard. It’s shocking at first and so surreal. Then reality sets in and one has to face the truth of the loss. Such has been the case with my friend Thyra Stevenson.
I met Thyra in 2011 when we were both running for House seats for the Legislature. She was an interesting character and played her cards close to her vest, and initially I wasn’t sure what to think of her. But she was always very helpful with lots of “intel” to share with me. She understood the inner workings of what we were getting into far better than I and watched out for me like a little sister.
Thyra and I ended up being seatmates that first term. She and I shared two committees, Agriculture and Business. But Thyra was also on the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee. It was quite an honor to be placed on that committee as a freshman. Her background as a city councilor had given her a strong foundation in budgeting and she took the appointment very seriously. She often arrived at the Capitol by 5 a.m. to begin reviewing the docket and getting answers to any questions she had.
Always she was prepared. Thyra was very conservative with the taxpayers’ dollars. She never doubted that certain programs being suggested had merit or value, but her question often was: “Is this the role of government?”
It was a question she always kept at the forefront of her mind when spending your money.
Yes, Thyra was “thrifty.” Toward the end of every session, we often had long breaks in the day as we waited for House leadership to hash out a deal with the Senate. Often, some of us would walk into downtown Boise and it was not uncommon for us to end up at a second-hand store while Thyra and Rep. Gail Batt, R-Wilder, negotiated some of the best deals ever. It was a frequent occurrence for the two of them to come back from these forays with a Gucci bag or a Channel suit that had cost them next to nothing. We called them the second-hand queens.
Thyra and I spent many hours together driving back and forth to Boise, or to meetings in our area. We debated legislation back and forth, argued, disagreed, agreed to disagree, looked for resolutions, bargained with other legislators and we laughed and cried as we learned about the wonderful state of Idaho and its people.
I learned a lot from Thyra. She was an amazing model of a woman who chose to follow her dreams. She didn’t allow old traditions to stop her. She just plowed head on into fields where women seldom went and did the job that was expected of her without asking for any special treatment. She was respected for her hard work and self-sacrifice.
Thyra loved representing the 6th Legislative District. It’s why she was running again. For people to suggest she was anything but a staunch conservative was just stupidity. If you were ever foolish enough to believe that, you didn’t know my friend.
I will remember Thyra as she lived, always ready for the next adventure — whether it be flying a plane, driving a horse buggy, learning to pilot a jet boat, running a legislative campaign or just being a friend. She was a wonderful woman who always gave 100 percent to whatever she was doing and she will be greatly missed by those of us who loved her.
Cheers to you, Thyra, and “semper paratus.”
Agidius represented Latah and Benewah counties in the Idaho House. She lives in Moscow.