Celebrating statehood: Hurley's grand golden return
"I was a clerk. I didn't vote, but I gave it my all and it was not just a job. ... I would have done it for nothing."
Katie Hurley, 87, believes her greatest contribution to Alaska statehood was her enthusiasm.

"I didn't mind working late," said Hurley, who was the secretary to territorial Gov. Ernest Gruening and chief clerk to the Alaska Constitutional Convention. "I didn't mind being there on Sunday. I knew I was observing history, and I took it all in. It was a great, great, great time to be part of that."

Hurley often found herself bringing her typewriter home in the evenings to finish her work during the 75-day convention in Fairbanks over the winter of 1955-56.

"I was a clerk. I didn't vote, but I gave it my all and it was not just a job," she said. "I would have done it for nothing."

Hurley will serve today as the grand marshal in the Juneau Fourth of July parade. The community is celebrating the anniversary of the nation as well as the 50th anniversary of Alaska statehood. The parade theme this year is "A Golden Celebration."

Hurley, who was born in Juneau on March 30, 1921, said it's a thrill to be honored in the community she was raised. The 1939 Juneau High School graduate presently resides in Wasilla.

"It's a fantastic honor to be chosen since I don't live here anymore," she said. "I've been gone since 1960, but my heart is still here."

Hurley said she is happy to be back to celebrate the Fourth of July and the 50th Anniversary of the passing of the Alaska Statehood Act by the U.S. Senate on June 30, 1958. She said she has fond memories of that day when the delegate to Congress, E.L. "Bob" Bartlett, called her from Washington, D.C.

"The debate had gone on for five or six days, and he called me early that morning - of course, the four-hour time change - to let me know he had been assured that the vote was going to come on and to be sure to listen to the radio. ... There was great excitement."


Brian Wallace / Juneau Empire

Katie Hurley, chief clerk to the Alaska Constitutional Convention, stands in front of the Capitol on Wednesday. Hurley will be the grand marshal for Juneau's Fourth of July parade today.