Part I: Recalling 50 years of Alaska governors
Former Hickel press sec interviews others for two-part series
Thousands of Alaskans across distant geographic and often different ethnic and economic regions will commemorate the half-century birthday with festivities and ceremonies recognizing the historic celebration.

Those thousands will include seven Alaskans who dusted off memories recalling their personal opportunity in government service to witness and participant in public policy decisions by their boss at the time: the chief executive officer and governor of Alaska.

Each of the seven served as the primary press secretary or communications director for Governors William A. Egan, Walter J. Hickel, Jay Hammond, Bill Sheffield, Steve Cowper, Tony Knowles and Frank H. Murkowski. (Efforts were unsuccessful to locate press staff for the half-term administration (1969-'70) of Gov. Keith Miller. Miller had been elected lieutenant governor and moved up when Hickel was named secretary of the Interior in the Nixon administration.)

None of the former press secretaries still work in the Office of the Governor. All say they were surprised and proud to be considered and appointed as the governor's news media contact.

The seven are not alone. Since statehood, at least 20 men and women have served as the chief or deputy press secretary, communications director or press staff assisting with "outreach," phone calls, newsletters and emails to keep constituents in touch with the administration.

Some communications staffers remained through one or two administrations. Others lasted a few days or weeks. Some were surprised to learn that those in charge already had firm ideas about press management. Others probably left the "Third Floor," the governor's office complex in the Capitol, humming the civil rights watchword, "Free, free at last."

JOHN GREELY

John Greely was a freelance journalist in Juneau in 1982 when Bill Sheffield faced and defeated Tom Fink in the contest for governor, and later faced impeachment during his term.

Greely was the key press aide during the efforts to impeach Sheffield. Today he dryly describes that experience as "One of many adventures we had, yes."


Courtesy of Joe Holbert

David Ramseur, left, poses with Gov. Steve Cowper during a refueling stop in the Soviet Far East aboard a Russian helicopter Ramseur worried had first flown about the time of the Wright Brothers flight.


Courtesy Of Joe Holbert

Bob King, left, was almost always at Gov. Tony Knowles' shoulder during press briefings in the governor's third-floor Capitol conference room throughout two Knowles administrations from 1994 to 2002.


Courtesy Of Joe Holbert

John Greely, left, poses with Gov. Bill Sheffield. Greely was Sheffield's press secretary during his 1982-86 administration.