Davis pays tribute to late board member Jack Combo
during Legislative session
Many legislators lost a good friend recently. Jack X. Combo of Idaho Falls passed away April 3 after an ongoing battle with cancer.
Combo, who was 86, wore many hats during his lifetime. He attended law school at Georgetown University, worked for the Atomic Energy Commission in Grand Junction, Colo., and was later the deputy, manager and acting director of the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, now Idaho National Laboratory.
When he retired from the U.S. Department of Energy, Combo went into private law practice in Idaho Falls with his son.
That's when Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, an Idaho Falls Republican, really got to know Combo.
"I have met a lot of gentle men, the type of people I would like to be like but know I am not," he said. "Jack Combo was one of those men. He was a peacemaker. He seemed to always find the good in people."
After learning of Combo's death, Davis eulogized him on the Senate floor.
Davis recalled this story when I asked him about Combo:
In 1989 or 1990, Davis, an attorney for 28 years, had a case make it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
To argue the case, Davis had to be admitted to the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court and needed two attorneys to write letters of recommendation for him.
One of those attorneys was Combo. Davis was admitted to the bar of the U.S. Supreme Court. The certificate hangs in his Idaho Falls office.
"I deeply respected Jack," Davis said.
In addition to being a respected lawyer, Combo served on the Idaho Transportation Department board for 18 years and was chairman for many ofthose years.
Rep. Leon Smith, a Twin Falls Republican, served on the board with Combo and delivered the eulogy at Combo's funeral in Idaho Falls.
He spoke glowingly of Combo this past week at the Idaho Legislature.
"What a wonderful guy," Smith said. "He was a very polite and courteous gentleman."
Combo was appointed to the transportation board by three governors (Democrat Cecil Andrus and Republicans Phil Batt and Dirk Kempthorne) and was a great resource for the other members, Smith said.
"He had a mind for minute details," Smith said. "He was just an amazing guy that way."
He said Combo wouldn't be pleased with the impasse at the Legislature between Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and the House, who can't agree on how much money should be raised to fix Idaho's roads and bridges.
"If he were alive still, he'd call me up and say, 'What the heck are you guys doing up there?'" Smith said.
Davis, truly saddened by Combo's death, said his feelings aren't unique.
"He's the kind of person, when he dies, the community really feels a loss," he said.