John Sherwood Chapman died peacefully on July 8 in Boise, accompanied by his spouse and partner of 34 years, Steve Champion. Funeral services will be held at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum on Monday, July 15, at 2 p.m.
In 2010, the Sun Valley-Ketchum and Hailey chambers of commerce named Chapman “Citizen of the Year” for the Wood River Valley. Chapman will be remembered for his generous spirit, good humor and tireless work in support of the arts, historic preservation and environmental and humanitarian causes.
In 2009, he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from his alma mater, the University of Idaho, for his contributions to the state. Chapman served as chairman of the advisory board of the Martin Institute at the University of Idaho for over 30 years and worked closely with his mentor, Dr. Boyd Martin, to make the Martin Institute a reality. In 2010, he endowed the John S. Chapman Chair of World Peace at the Martin Institute at the University of Idaho and worked hard to bring peace to the world through his many endeavors.
Chapman was born July 6, 1936, in Twin Falls, Idaho, the son of Marshall Byron Chapman and Dorothy Parsons Chapman. His paternal grandfather, John William Chapman, arrived in Boise, Idaho, in a wagon train on the Oregon Trail in August 1864. Chapman was the founder of the Phi Delta Theta turtle race at U of I, and was a member of Blue Key and Silver Lance and the Phi Eta Sigma scholastic fraternity. He graduated from Stanford Law School in 1961 and was employed in Boise by Jess Hawley of the law firm of Hawley & Hawley in Boise, and later with the firm of Hawley Troxell Ennis & Hawley. In 1964, he opened his own law practice in Boise and later merged his firm with I.F. Martin and C. Ben Martin, as Martin Chapman & Martin and later Martin Chapman Park & Burken.
In 1964, he was selected as “Young Man of the Year” by the Boise Junior Chamber of Commerce and asked by Sen. Frank Church to lead an Idaho delegation to Ecuador to help out after an earthquake. After returning, he formed the organization known as the Idaho Partners of the Alliance.
Chapman was very active politically, starting as a Boise precinct committeeman and eventually serving as treasurer of the Idaho Democratic Party, on the Executive Committee of the Idaho Democratic Party, and as Democratic National Committeeman for the State of Idaho from 1974 to 1984. He served as treasurer for the campaigns of Gov. Cecil Andrus and Gov. John Evans, on the Idaho Finance Committee for President Jimmy Carter, and as a member of the Lawyers Council for the Democratic Party.
For four years, he represented the 15 Western states on the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Party. Chapman was delegate to the Democratic National Convention on three different occasions, was acquainted with two presidents and dined at the White House on several occasions.
During the 1970s, while serving as chairman of the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission, Chapman was instrumental in creating the Boise Greenbelt Park. He also served as president of the Boise Chapter of the American Red Cross, president of the Boise United Way, and president of the Boise Rotary Foundation. Chapman also served on the board of directors of the Boise Art Museum, the Boise Philharmonic, and as president of the board of Ballet Idaho was instrumental in bringing Ballet Idaho to Boise from the campus of the University of Idaho. He also served as chairman of the Idaho Commission on the Arts, and in 1994 was given the Governor’s Award for the Support of the Arts by Gov. Andrus.
Mr. Chapman said one of the most rewarding accomplishments of his life was serving as first president of the Gamma Mu Foundation. Chapman founded the Gamma Mu Foundation in 1988 at the Cloverley Ranch and was instrumental in raising substantial capital for its endowment, which is dedicated to helping rural AIDS patients throughout the United States.
Chapman is survived by his daughters, Christi Olsen, Heidi Schroeder and Elizabeth Gray; and grandchildren Danielle and Leneisha Olsen, Brady Olsen, Erica Olsen, Jacob Schroeder, Andy Gray and Evan Gray; and great-grandchildren Riley, Kelsey and Kage Olsen. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation in Blaine County, Idaho.