Alaska’s legendary Ted Stevens is getting his due with a new portrait honoring him in the state Capitol, which will hang outside its legislative chambers.
It was unveiled at the Alaska State Museum Friday before top state dignitaries.
“I hope this will be a nice remembrance for all of you for the love Ted had for the state, and for you,” said Catherine Stevens, the wife of the late senator, at the unveiling.
She said the senator fondly remembered the time he spent in Juneau, including serving as the majority leader in the House of Representatives, before spending 40 years representing Alaska in Washington, D.C.
Stevens told stories of the senator’s time in Juneau, with people like Boardman, Guess, Kerttula and Hickel, who may have disagreed on policies but got along personally.
“We all remember everyone was friends in those days,” she said.
“That camaraderie Ted learned here in the Legislature served him well when he went on to Washington, where for the first 12 years he was in the minority and made friends across the aisle,” she said.
After fellow Sen. Ernest Gruening of Alaska wad defeated for re-election, Ted Stevens made an office for the Democrat in his office to keep him around, Catherine Stevens said.
Now, their portraits will hang next to each other at the Capitol.
Gov. Sean Parnell said the Stevens portrait will help keep the earlier generation’s statesman in the minds of officials and the public in future years, just as the portraits in the capitol did for him as a young legislator.
“That’s what this portrait will do, it will continue telling the story of Ted Stevens,” he said.
Parnell, from Anchorage, said he’d ask the Fairbanks legislators about the image of John Butrovich, one of the notable Alaskans from that city.
That’s what the Stevens image will do for the senator and his state.
“Placing it in a place of tribute in the Capitol so Alaska’s story can be told over and over again in the decades to come,” Parnell said.
House Speaker Mike Chenault, Senate President Gary Stevens and others also praised both the portrait and the decision to have it located in the capitol. The idea for honoring Stevens with the portrait originally came from legislative aide John Manly.
Catherine Stevens, who unveiled the portrait at the museum with Parnell, said it was wonderful that artist Dean Larson, originally from Alaska, was able to paint it.
“Dean is somebody we have a lot admiration for,” she said.
Artist Larson himself thanked Stevens for his support over the years.
“Of the many things he did, he also supported the arts very greatly,” Larson said.
Larson said he was very thankful to have been chosen for the project.
“If you work really hard you get a few highlights in your career, and this is one for me,” he said.
Larson said the portrait was not painted from any specific image of Stevens, but from multiple images. The background is in Stevens’ beloved Senate Appropriations Committee meeting room in Washington, D.C., and the image contains the pocket square and Senate pin he always wore.
“I think you captured his spirit very well,” Catherine Stevens told Larson after the unveiling.
• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.