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Robert E. Smylie

Gov. Robert E. Smylie

  • January 3, 1955 - January 2, 1967
  • Republican
  • October 31, 1914
  • July 17, 2004
  • Iowa
  • College of Idaho; George Washington University
  • Married Lucille Irwin; two children
  • Coast Guard


ROBERT E. SMYLIE was born in Marcus, Iowa, on October 31, 1914. He first came to Idaho as a student and received an A.B. from the College of Idaho in 1938; subsequently, he worked his way through law school at George Washington University, earning a J.D. in 1942. He served in the Coast Guard during World War II, married, and came back to Idaho in 1947 first as Assistant Attorney General (1947) and then Attorney General (1947 to 1954). He was elected Governor of Idaho in 1953 and was reelected twice. During his three terms in office, Governor Smylie could count among his many achievements an increase in the minimum wage; a five-day work week for state employees; creation of the Department of Commerce; a massive state highway construction program; promotion of the interests of business, land, and water within Idaho; serving as chair of the Western Governor’s Association; the establishment of the state park system; and the introduction of a state sales tax to fund education. He chaired the Republican Governors Association from 1963 to 1966 and the Western Governors’ Conference from 1958 to 1959, and served on the National Governor’s Conference Executive Committee from 1956 to 1957, 1959 to 1960, and in 1963.


Albertson College of Idaho

Idaho Governors Photo Album

Idaho State Historical Society Gubernatorial Manuscript and Archive Collections:

  • Smylie, Robert E. papers, 1940-1967. MS0280.
  • Idaho inauguration, 1959. MS2/1141.
  • Records, Governor Robert Smylie, 1961. AR0002.0024×1.
  • Records, Governor Robert Smylie, 1955-1966. AR0002.0024.

Governors of the American States, Commonwealths and Territories, National Governors’ Conference, 1966.

Recent Idaho Governors