Medical examiner says Thompson's body was recovered

Posted: Wednesday, February 16, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The body of Morris Thompson, former chief of Doyon Ltd., has been recovered following the crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261 off the California coast, according to a medical examiner.

Thompson, 60, was killed, along with his wife Thelma and daughter Sheryl, when the plane they were on crashed Jan. 31 into the Pacific Ocean just off Los Angeles. The three were returning from a vacation at the Mexican resort town of Puerto Vallarta. The vacation was a gift Doyon presented to Thompson when he retired from the corporation in December. All 88 people aboard the plane were killed.

The Ventura County Medical Examiner's office said Monday it had identified the remains of 47 victims and released 20 names. Thompson's name was released on Saturday.

Julie Frey, spokeswoman for medical examiner's office, declined to say whether the remains of Thelma or Sheryl have been recovered.

The medical examiner's office said Tuesday it also had recovered the body of Malcolm Branson, 39, of Ketchikan, the son of former state legislator Margaret Branson.

Thompson, one of Alaska's most prominent leaders, assumed the leadership of Doyon in 1985. He brought the corporation, which was created to manage 12 million acres and cash assets, from the brink of bankruptcy to one of the state's most successful companies.

Thompson helped secure passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the 1971 law that created Doyon and 12 other regional corporations. He was, in 1973 at age 34, the youngest person ever named commissioner of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Thompson's death has been mourned by thousands, who have attended memorial services in Anchorage and Fairbanks. U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, eulogized Thompson on the Senate floor as a ''tremendous leader.''

A funeral service and potlatch is planned in Tanana, Thompson's home village, though a date has not been set.

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