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Alaska Congressman Don Young Has Died; Dean of the House Will Lie in State in National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol

Posted & Edited By MARY KAUFFMAN


March 21, 2022
Monday PM

(SitNews) Alaska - The afternoon of Friday, March 18, 2022, the Office of Congressman Don Young released a statement announcing his death as he was traveling back to Alaska.
jpg Alaska Congressman Don Young Has Died; Dean of the House Will Lie in State in National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol

In the statement, staff wrote, “It’s with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we announce Congressman Don Young (R-AK), the Dean of the House and revered champion for Alaska, passed away [Friday] while traveling home to Alaska to be with the state and people that he loved. His beloved wife Anne was by his side."

This morning the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that Congressman Don Young (R-AK), the Dean of the House and longest-serving Republican representative, will lie in state in National Statuary Hall in the United States Capitol on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. 

As Speaker Pelosi said after his passing, “For five decades, he was an institution in the hallowed halls of Congress: a serious legislator always bringing people together to do the People’s work.  The photographs of him with ten presidents of both parties who signed his bills into law that proudly cover the walls of his Rayburn office are a testament to his longevity and his legislative mastery.”

A formal ceremony will be held Tuesday morning on March 29th with the Young family, which will be open to invited guests.  Following the memorial service, there will be viewing open to Members of Congress.  Additional details will be announced at a later date.

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy released a statement Friday saying, “Congressman Don Young has been a great friend of mine for many years. I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of this amazing man who, in many ways, formed Alaska into the great state it is today. Hours after being sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives, he was leading the historic battle for approval of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. Shortly after, he was impressively honored in 1973 as the ‘Freshman Congressman of the Year.’ This is the Congressman whom Alaska will remember forever. Alaska is a better place because of Don Young. Rose and I offer our prayers to his family during this difficult time.”

Governor Dunleavy ordered on Friday that Alaska state flags and the United States flags fly at half-staff immediately until interment.

Donald Edwin Young was born on June 9, 1933 in Meridian, California. Young moved to Alaska in 1959, not long after it became a state. He eventually settled in Fort Yukon, then a 700-person city on the Yukon River, seven miles above the Arctic Circle in Alaska's central interior region.

Congressman Young first entered public service in 1964 when he was elected Mayor of Fort Yukon. Two years later, Alaskan voters elected him to the State Legislature in Juneau where he served in the State House from 1966 to 1970, and later in the State Senate from 1970 to 1973. Just hours after being sworn in to United States House of Representatives in 1973, he found himself leading the historic battle for approval of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. Often citing this as the single most important achievement in his career, Congressman Young stated, “Next to statehood itself, the most historical legislation passed that affected every Alaskan then, now, and in the future, was the passage of the pipeline legislation.”

Congressman Don Young was re-elected to the 117th Congress in 2020 to serve his 25th term as Alaska’s only Member of the United States House of Representatives.  He was first sworn in as a freshman to the 93rd Congress after winning a special election on March 6, 1973. Congressman Young became Dean of the House in 2017.

Young's staff described him as a fierce defender of Alaska since elected to Congress in 1973, saying nearly everything that has advanced for Alaska is a result of Don Young’s tenacious work. From the Trans-Alaska pipeline, to the Ketchikan Shipyard, to the Magnuson Stevens Act, which transformed the American fishing industry, to the numerous land exchanges he fought for, Don Young’s legacy cannot be overstated wrote his staff in a statement.

“Every day, I try to do something for somebody and some group, Congressman Young once said. “And every day I try to learn something new. We all go into the ground the same way. The only thing we leave behind are our accomplishments.”

On hearing of Young's passing, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) released a statement Friday saying, “Like all Alaskans, Julie and I are saddened, shocked, and devastated by the sudden passing of our Congressman Don Young. His spirit - authentic, tenacious, indomitable, a man of the people - epitomized our great state to such a degree that there was a sense he’d always be with us, that he’d live forever." 

Sullivan wrote, “He was a dear friend and mentor, and I have learned so much from this great Alaskan. The Alaska that we know and love today is a reality because of the tireless work of Don Young."

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski also released a statement Friday, “Alaskans are devastated by this shocking and sad news and I am saddened beyond belief about the loss of my friend. We have lost a giant who we loved dearly and who held Alaska in his heart - always. Don was coming home to the place that he loved, and to the people that loved him best. We love you, Don.”

Members of the Alaska Senate Majority are among those who also mourn the passing Congressmane Young. Quoting a news release, Young was known for his absolute dedication to Alaska, his down-to-earth political acumen, and his ability to work across party lines for what was best for Alaskans.  

Alaska Senate President Peter Micciche said, “We are still reeling from [Friday's] news about the loss of our close friend, Congressman Don Young. After dedicating well over 50 years of his larger-than-life existence serving the people of Alaska, it almost seemed that Congressman Young would live forever. Instead, he will live in our hearts for as long, in spite of his mortality." 

Micciche said, "I personally sat down this evening after learning of Don’s passing in front of an old photo of the two of us, poured a toast in his honor, and reflected about an Alaskan’s Alaskan before calling my family to break the news of the loss of “Uncle Don."

Micciche said, "Don Young was the real thing. If a polished politician is what you expected, Representative Young may not have been your man. However, the Congressman was heavily supported for twenty-five terms due to his ability to connect with who we are as Alaskans, and for his energetic fight, right until the end for Alaska and the country he loved. He said out loud what was in his heart; a rare commodity in U.S. politics these days, and I believe the primary reason for his charm and success. I am honored to have been represented by Representative Don Young for most of my life, and further honored to have been able to call him my friend.”    

In a news release, the Alaska Senate Majority said as they work to conclude this legislative session, they will remember the legacy of Representative Young’s service and his selfless dedication to Alaska.  Members of the Alaska Senate Majority mourn the passing of U.S Representative Don Young who was known for his absolute dedication to Alaska, his down-to-earth political acumen, and his ability to work across party lines for what was best for Alaskans.  

Various members of the Alaska House Coalition also released statements in rememberance.

Alaska House Speaker Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak) said, "Don Young is an Alaskan legend who spent his life in service to building this state. We are grateful for his dedicated service and his legacy will not be forgotten." 

Alaska House Rep. Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham) said, "I can't imagine Congress without Don Young fighting for Alaska." 

Alaska House Rep. Neal Foster (D-Nome) said, “Tenacious and driven, Don Young was a tireless advocate for rural Alaska. ?His loss is impossible to overstate.”

Alaska House Rep. Zack Fields (D-Anchorage) said, "I don't think there's anyone who has done more for his state in the history of the U.S. Congress than Don Young."

The Institute of the North, founded by Walter J. Hickel, also extended its condolences to Young’s family, friends, staff, former staff and all Alaskans as they remember his life and legacy. As the longest-serving Republican member of Congress, Young was also the 2004 recipient of the Walter J. Hickel Award. Representative Young’s contributions to the State of Alaska, its citizens, and its progress will be remembered for the decades to come. 

Entering Congress in 1973, two years after the Alaska Native Claims Settlements Act (ANCSA), Young was instrumental in the development of ANCSA as well as advocating for unrecognized tribes. Quoting a news release from the Institute of the North, Young was a man of many legacies: a riverboat captain, former-fifth grade teacher, and legislator, his identity and policies epitomized the beauty of Alaska; a state where no one is a square peg in a round hole. Don Young leaves behind a great legacy of leadership as the sponsor of a staggering 123 bills and member of the Natural Resources committee. Don Young’s presence and fierce advocacy for Alaska will be missed.

AOPA (Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association) President and CEO Mark Baker wrote in a statement, "AOPA and the general aviation community lost an ally and a partner in the passing of Representative Don Young, and I lost a friend."

Baker wrote in rememberance, Don was the longest-serving member of Congress for good reason: he got things done and he was passionate about what was important to Alaskans. Don also cared deeply about general aviation and the freedom to fly in this great country. Representing the strong spirit of aviation in Alaska, Don’s work in Congress kept our airspace open and safe.  

As chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and a key member of the GA Caucus, Don was a driving force for aviation in Congress. His efforts brought about great benefits to pilots wrote Baker.

Baker said it was only fitting that Young was a past recipient of the "Doc" Hartranft Award, given by AOPA to the government official who has done the greatest good on behalf of general aviation.

Young received many awards during the time he served in Congress.

Congressman Young will be greatly missed by the people of Alaska and all those who knew him.

Source of News:

Office of Congressman Don Young

Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Office of US Sen. Lisa Murkowski

Office of US Sen. Dan Sullivan

Alaska Senate Majority

Alaska House Coalition

AOPA (Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association)

Institute of the North

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