COEUR d'ALENE - The latest edition of Idaho's Blue Book, a go-to resource for anything Idaho, has been dedicated to local leaders of the human rights movement.
In a spot reserved for Idaho moguls, such as former Governor Cecil Andrus and Joe Albertson, who built one of the world's largest supermarket chains, Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa dedicated the 22nd edition of the Blue Book to Bill Wassmuth, Tony Stewart and Norm Gissel.
"Both of us were on the same page with this," said Pat Herman, who compiles the Blue Book for Ysursa. "We had both seen Marcia Franklin's documentary 'The Color of Conscience.'"
So when Herman approached Ysursa with the suggestion that they honor the human rights leaders this year, it was a fairly easy sell.
"He is the boss though, so he gets all the credit," she joked.
Herman said she was seeking photographs of the individuals and called the Human Rights Education Institute, which offered to put her in touch with Gissel and Stewart, but she wanted it to be a surprise.
"I called Marcia Franklin and she put me in touch with Norm's wife Diana," she said. "And she kept it secret."
Gissel said he was completely surprised when heard about it on Tuesday. The book was just released on Monday.
"I was telling my daughter about it, and my wife said she's known about it along," Gissel said. "I accused her of being a master secret keeper."
Gissel called the dedication a huge honor.
"These are collecting enterprises," he said. "They go on for years and years."
He said he has never even met the Secretary of State. The book is published every two years, and chronicles information about the governments in Idaho, as well as facts on everything from Idaho's state bird to Idaho's state parks.
They can be found in any library in the state, and they date back 44 years. They can also be ordered from the Secretary of State's office in Boise.
Gissel was honored for being one of the original founders of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, which spoke out against the Aryan Nations. Gissel also provided legal assistance for victims of harassment.
He was instrumental in convincing the Keenan family to pursue a harassment case against the Aryans, and enlisted the help of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which eventually led to the collapse of the Aryan Nations and their Hayden compound.
"Culturally there was a lot riding on this case," Gissel said, adding that he was glad they were able to topple the Aryans before friend and fellow honoree Bill Wassmuth passed away in 2002.
"He called me about every six months to say you gotta win this case," he said. "Then he would call back six months later and say it again."
Once they did prevail, Wassmuth joined Gissel and a handful of other human rights leaders to tour the Aryan compound.
"That was a big moment," he said, adding Wassmuth was in poor health by that time. "We all told him not to, but he climbed the tower out there."
It was really an emotional moment for all who attended, Gissel said.
Wassmuth's house was bombed by the Aryans in the 1980s. He was not hurt, but that launched him into the human rights movement.
He was recruited to lead the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, and mobilized a community rally the same week as the Aryan Nations' World Congress was held in Coeur d'Alene.
"The rally outdrew the supremacists by 20-to-1, making Mr. Wassmuth one of our state's heroes," the Blue Book states.
Stewart, who was a professor of political science at North Idaho College for 40 years, was also honored in the book.
"I found out Monday and it was very surprising and humbling" Stewart said. "I used to teach from that book in my classes."
Stewart was honored for his role in starting a support group that eventually became the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations. He was instrumental in developing the group's public relations strategy.
He ran counter rallies to the Aryan rallies year after year, and is well known for his "Lemons to Lemonade" campaign, the Blue Book states.
Stewart was one of the strongest voices speaking out against Richard Butler and the Aryans during a time when they were drawing national media attention.
He also helped work on the case that eventually bankrupted the Aryans. Stewart also had a talk show on PBS and organized NIC's Popcorn Forums for more than 37 years.
Many of those forums and talk shows were focused on human rights.
In true fashion, Stewart wants to pay tribute to everyone who was, and still is, involved in the human rights movement in Idaho.
"This dedication really belongs to every person that worked on human rights in North Idaho," he said. "There is no one individual that by themselves could have done this."