Friends and colleagues of former Assemblymember and Deputy Labor Commissioner David G. Stone, a lifelong Juneauite who died suddenly Tuesday evening, remembered him as “compassionate” and “professional.”
Stone, who was 55, served on the Borough Assembly from October 2003 to October 2012. For his last year on the Assembly, he was Juneau’s deputy mayor.
Former Mayor Bruce Botelho, who served on the Assembly with Stone during that time, said Wednesday that he has “lost a good friend.”
“David loved his community, loved his state,” said Botelho. “I think he gave a great deal, and he had the capacity to give a great deal more. His untimely passing, I think, is a sad day for all of us.”
Stone was brought to the emergency department of Bartlett Regional Hospital at 5 p.m. Tuesday and was pronounced dead at the hospital (http://bit.ly/Qvz7Th). According to his family, the cause of death was heart failure.
When Botelho and Stone relinquished their seats on the Assembly little more than a month ago to Mayor Merrill Sanford and Assemblymember Loren Jones, respectively, Botelho said his friendship with Stone had developed and deepened over the course of their Assembly service together, a sentiment he repeated Wednesday.
“Each of us made the decision to run for reelection each time on the basis that the other would,” Botelho said.
Sanford served three terms on the Assembly from 2002 to 2011, working alongside Stone for eight of those years. He was with Stone’s family at the hospital Tuesday evening.
“He’s a person that was very interested in our community and wanted to see good, sound economic development happen, and that’s what he worked for for our community and our region, and the state as a whole,” said Sanford, noting Stone’s work at the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development and in the private sector. “It was good to have David as a friend and as a person who cared about our region as a whole.”
Assemblymember Randy Wanamaker had known Stone since 1980. In the 1980s and 1990s, he said, he and Stone frequently worked together to organize mining conferences, analyze projects for various industry groups and businesses, and draft environmental impact statements.
“He was a really warm and cordial professional colleague,” Wanamaker recalled Wednesday. “It was always really nice working with him.”
Botelho acknowledged Stone’s deep interest in and “encyclopedic” knowledge of Alaska mining history and the history of the Juneau area.
“That was a particular mission of his during his years on the Assembly,” said Botelho.
Wanamaker, who came from a mining family, said he and Stone used to trade stories about the mines in Juneau. He said they had talked about writing a book together — Stone co-authored “Hard Rock Gold: The Story of the Great Mines That Were the Heartbeat of Juneau,” a history of mining in Juneau, in 1980 — but never had the chance to do so.
“It’s so unexpected,” Wanamaker said of Stone’s death. “It really is hard to imagine.”
Reflecting on his Assembly service, Sanford and Botelho both described Stone as a voice of calm.
“He was a good guy, and he brought a calmness to debate that was good and measured,” Sanford said. “His was a very calm way that I hope I can copy a little bit and become a little bit more of a mature leader in … following in his footsteps that way.”
“I guess I would describe him as a peacemaker,” said Botelho. “I think he was always viewed as kind of the person who would bridge ideological gaps (on) the Assembly.”
Cathie Roemmich, chief executive officer of the Juneau Chamber of Commerce, described Stone’s death as “a horrible, horrible loss.” She said she considered Stone a friend.
“It’s just a horrible shock to everyone,” Roemmich said. “He was very active in the community and Chamber. He was always there for us at the Chamber.”
Roemmich added, “He was a friend to so many of us. We all just picked up the phone and would call David — just a wonderful guy. He was taken way too young.”
“It’s a huge loss for our community,” said City Manager Kim Kiefer.
At the time of his death, Stone served as deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. He was promoted to that position from being assistant commissioner, a position he took in 2011 after serving as Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell’s chief of staff. As of press time, the department’s website (http://bit.ly/SfdhAa) still lists him, with a small photo, as deputy commissioner on its front page.
“I am thankful that David was a part of our department and for the work he so strongly supported — helping Alaska continue to be a great place to live and work,” Labor Commissioner Dianne Blumner said in a written statement Wednesday. “His passing will leave a void in Juneau, Southeast and all of Alaska.”
“David will be remembered as a kind, thoughtful man who always put others first. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” said Gov. Sean Parnell.
Stone was a former president of the Alaska Miners Association and of AJT Mining Properties. He was also a past vice president at Alaska Electric Light and Power Co.
Stone had two adult children, Carlin and Brandon, and two adult stepchildren. His wife, Laurel Stone, thanked members of the community Wednesday who have contacted her to express their condolences.
Services will be announced at a later date, Laurel Stone added, saying, “I want to very much take my time, because I want to have a service for David that is very dignified and just joyful and spiritual, and just show him the respect that he deserves.”
• Contact reporter Mark D. Miller at 523-2279 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.