BOISE – Perry Swisher, longtime Idaho newspaperman and former state lawmaker and Idaho Public Utilities Commission member, died today at his home in Boise. He was 88 and had struggled with a series of health issues, including heart problems.
Born Joseph Perry Swisher in Bruneau, Swisher devoted his life to serving the state of Idaho and the ideals of good government. His work in public service and newspapers took him from his hometown of Pocatello to Lewiston and finally to Boise, where he retired from the IPUC in 1991 after 12 years.
Swisher's professional career with newspapers began in 1943 as the Pocatello News Bureau Manager for the Salt Lake Tribune. In 1952 he became editor and publisher of The Intermountain, a weekly paper primarily serving Alameda, an area later incorporated into Pocatello.
From 1969 until 1976 Swisher served as Director of Special Services at Idaho State University before returning to journalism as Managing Editor of the Lewiston Morning Tribune. From 1979 until 1985.
His wife and lifelong partner, Nicky Swisher, who survives him. They were
married in 1948.
Known as a political maverick, Swisher served in the Idaho Legislature as a Republican in the 1950s and 1960s, on the Pocatello City Council as a nonpartisan member, and again in the legislature in the 1970s as a Democrat. In 1965, he co-authored the act that established the state sales tax with the revenue dedicated to public schools.
In 1966, Swisher ran for Idaho governor as an independent in a three-way race that was won by Republican Don Samuelson after the original Democratic nominee died in a plane crash and was replaced by Cecil Andrus, who subsequently defeated Samuelson in 1970.
He was named to the IPUC in 1979 by Gov. John Evans and served as chairman during 1980-83.
A private memorial will be held at a later date.
Donations are requested to be made to the Idaho Conservation League and the Shriners Hospitals for Children.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Larry of Washington, D.C., a daughter-in-law, Lorie Swisher of Idaho Falls, four grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and five brothers and sisters.
His son Eric preceded him in death.
Swisher Road in Pocatello is named for the Swisher family, which has deep roots in the city. Perry's father, James, moved to Pocatello from Blackfoot in the 1930s.