We’ll start with John W. Thomas. Thomas is not the best-known US Senator ever to come from the State of Idaho, but he was one of the more persistent people to hold a Senate seat. His first taste of politics was as the mayor of Gooding. From 1925-1933, he was a member of the Republican National Committee. Thomas became a senator the first time in 1928, not by election, but by appointment when Sen. Frank Gooding died in office. He won a special election later that year, and served until 1933. He had lost a reelection bid to Democrat James Pope in 1932.
Thomas became a senator again in 1940, when he was appointed to fill the seat of William Borah, perhaps Idaho’s most famous senator. He was elected to the seat in 1942, but died in office three years later.
The political lineage of the family continues with Thomas’ daughter, Mary. She married Art Peavey of Twin Falls when both were students at the University of Idaho. They had two children, John and Elizabeth (Betty). Mary was widowed when Art Peavey was lost in a boating accident on the Snake River in 1941. She would marry C. Wayland “Curly” Brooks, a US Senator from Illinois in 1946. They were married eleven years until his death from a heart attack in 1957.
Mary Brooks ran her father’s sheep ranch in Idaho from 1945 until 1961, when her son John took over. She served in the Idaho Senate from 1963 until 1969. It was in 1969 that President Nixon tapped Mary Brooks to run the US Mint, a post she held until February 1977. The photo is of Mary Brooks with President Nixon celebrating the release of the Eisenhower dollar.
It is Mary’s son, John Peavey, who is likely most familiar to Idahoans today, if only because he was in politics more recently. Peavey was appointed to fill his mother’s seat when she became Director of the Mint. He served in the Idaho Senate for 23 years, and ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1994.