Don Young, the seemingly indestructible politician who was Alaska’s sole congressman for more than three-fourths of his state’s existence, died Friday.
His wife, Anne, was by his side, his office said in statement.
“It’s with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we announce Congressman Don Young, the Dean of the House and revered champion for Alaska, passed away today while traveling home to Alaska to be with the state and people that he loved,” the statement said.
Young, a Republican and the longest-serving member of Congress, lost consciousness on a flight from Los Angeles to Seattle and couldn’t be resuscitated, said Jack Ferguson, a lobbyist who once served as Young’s chief of staff.
“Everyone’s learning about it right at the moment. The phone’s ringing off the hook,” Ferguson said in a phone interview Friday evening. “I’m sad to lose such a good friend, and a person that I’ve known all his political career.”
Young served in Congress since 1973. He was sworn in after winning a special election to replace Democrat Nick Begich, who disappeared on a campaign flight.
Our condolences to Rep. Young and his family. There’s a point here to be made about the necessity of term limits at the Imperial level, but I’ll make those another day. Out of respect for Rep. Young’s family, it doesn’t seem right to argue that issue now. For now I’ll just say that, judging by the number of times Alaskans sent him back to the Imperial City, the residents of the Great Land obviously found him to be a worthy public servant. And, if your employers find you worthy of staying in your position, well, that’s as good a reference as you need.
RIP, Don. We’ll take good care of Alaska for you.