J. R. Simplot, Idaho Legend, Passes On At 99
Idaho billionaire J. R. Simplot passed away earlier today at age 99. After making a fortune from perfecting the frozen French Fry, he concentrated on philanthropy and investing, helping many Idaho companies (including the one where I work) get started. An amazingly open man who never even attended high school, his home number is listed in the phone book, and it's said he answered the phone himself.
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Simplot once; I was a JO on USS Topeka (SSN 754) in the early 90s, and the members of the USS Boise Commissioning Committee came to San Diego for a dog-and-pony show that featured a VIP ride on our boat. I helped him down the Weapons Shipping Hatch and to the wardroom, and mentioned that my wife was from Idaho. He didn't walk around the boat much (he was in his 80s, after all) but talked with all the crewmen he could. He was the epitome of the true American success story.