Former Anchorage mayor Stolt dies at 100

Posted: Thursday, March 01, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Bill Stolt, who came to Anchorage as a teenager in 1917 and served three terms as mayor in the 1940s, died Tuesday in the Anchorage Pioneers' Home. He was 100.

''He'd just finished dinner and was lying down,'' said Wayne Stolt, his son. ''His heart gave out.''

When Stolt arrived in Anchorage as a teenager, he wasn't impressed.

''Anchorage looked pretty desolate and dismal to me,'' he recalled for a reporter at 95. ''I thought to myself, 'When I get through school and get enough money, I'll be getting out of here.'''

But he was wrong about that. Over eight decades he saw Anchorage go from a scrappy frontier town on Ship Creek to a sprawling modern city. In his later years, one of his favorite activities was talking about the days when Anchorage was so small he knew practically everyone in town.

William Alex Stolt was born in Boston on July 5, 1900, to Finnish parents. His father died when Stolt was a baby. In 1913, the family moved to Juneau and four years later to Anchorage.

In 1920, the year Anchorage was incorporated as a city, Stolt was valedictorian of his graduating class, which consisted of him and another boy. He worked for the railroad to earn money for college. He eventually earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Washington State College.

He married Lilian Rivers in 1929. Four years later they started Bill's Electric Shop, paying $25 a month for a Fourth Avenue store with an apartment in the back.

Stolt wired houses and businesses for $1 an hour. Artist Sydney Laurence once gave him two paintings in trade for wiring work and a washing machine.

He and his wife had three children.

Stolt served on the City Council from 1938 to 1940 and was elected to three one-year terms as mayor, starting in 1941. His biggest accomplishment in office was the city's purchase of the Eklutna Power Co. The family plans a memorial service at 1 p.m. Monday at the Lutheran Church of Hope, 1847 W. Northern Lights Blvd. His ashes will be scattered over Cook Inlet.

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