Ken Pursley DS’57 died tragically on Oct. 21, 2015 when his boat capsized on a fishing excursion in an upper tributary of the Amazon River. He was 75. Originally from Idaho, Ken lived in Boise with his wife Betsy. The summer after his high school junior year, Ken came directly to Deep Springs and stayed for two years before transferring to Cornell to complete his Bachelor’s degree. Ken is remembered fondly by his DS classmates as being particularly vocal among the students in alerting the Board to the destructive behavior of the Director in the late 1950s. He went on to take his law degree from University of Chicago and moved back to Idaho in 1970 to practice in Boise. He was a firm believer in the virtues of good government and made an unsuccessful bid for a Congressional seat in the 1976 election. In 1977, he co-founded the law firm Givens Pursley, where he worked for the next 28 years, building it into one of the largest firms in the state.
His law colleagues recall him as being intellectually curious, fair-minded, and caring deeply about his employees. After retiring from law practice, he started a real estate firm, investing in multiple local developments in the Boise area. Ken enjoyed the great outdoors throughout his life. He was a co-founder of the Idaho Conservation League, served on the board of the Nature Conservancy, led citizen initiatives to promote land use planning and campaign finance laws, and was instrumental in advocating the Boise Greenbelt initiative. He was also an avid fly-fisherman – ‘talented but not flashy’ according to his friends. His enjoyment of the sport motivated him to be co-owner of a fly-fishing outfitter shop, and he travelled to far-flung locations, both in the U.S. and abroad in pursuit of interesting adventures, often together with Betsy. He died doing something that he loved.