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Letters to the Editor

Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2001

Hugh Malone built reputation as statesman of highest order

This is truly a sad day for Alaska.

Hugh Malone was one of the finest legislators in the state's short history. Not only was he a brilliant conceptual thinker, he was a statesman of the highest order. I don't believe he ever thought of himself or his own political future while he was in public office. If it wasn't going to be good for the state of Alaska, it wasn't good legislation.

He was one of the brightest of the "Sunshine Boys," who dominated the Legislature in the 1970s and early '80s.

Not only was he a unique force in the Democratic Legislature, he was fair-minded about all legislation -- he knew how to play the game, but he got a law passed no matter who proposed it if it was good for the state.

It was always a pleasure to visit with him, although in the past few years he remained the quiet, elusive figure he had always been. It was a privilege to serve in the Alaska House of Representatives with him.

There is no one to fill the void he has left. I shall miss him. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

Margaret A. Branson

Seward

Hugh Malone left indelible mark

on peninsula, statewide politics

The Malones lived down the street from us in Kenai; our daughter, Mary, baby-sat for Hugh and Chris. We served together on the Kenai City Council and the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly.

His father, Frank, a surveyor, was a first generation American from Northern Ireland (where my people came from). His mother, Kate, who worked for the court system, was from a politically active Irish Philadelphia family. My wife, Karen, and Kate served the Republican and Democrat parties, watching closely the Kenai election boards. The Malone survey office was just upstairs from the Fisher and Hornaday law office and we heard Frank's lecture on why the British should leave Ireland many times. Hugh and (former legislator) Mark Hodgins were in the first business law class I taught in the Kenai Peninsula Community College way back in 1966.

Hugh progressed from local government to serving as speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives. He was a leader of the ad hoc Democrat "Sunshine Boys," who took over control of the party from the old time Democrats in the 1970s. He was actively involved in state and local issues (Kenai courthouse, roads, airports, water and sewer projects). He was a leader in the creation of the Alaska Permanent Fund and the resulting dividend program, and later served as commissioner of the Department of Revenue and on the Alaska Permanent Fund Board.

His understanding of grass roots politics was without peer -- one campaign he told me he was urging his supporters to "toughen up his support in the Fritz Creek precinct" east of Homer.

Although he remained an avid Democrat, he worked well with other legislators, regardless of party.

Years later, while serving as an unpaid lobbyist for the cancer society in Juneau for an increase in the tobacco tax, I ran into Hugh the first day and he laid out exactly what the current situation was on the bill and what was going to happen -- and it did.

My last contact with Hugh he was selling tickets for his daughter's Juneau Little Theatre production.

Good travels, Hugh, and may you be in heaven a half an hour before the devil knows you're gone.

James C. Hornaday

Homer



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