Desdia Neva McKittrick Egan

Posted: Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Desdia Neva McKittrick Egan passed away Jan. 19, 2011; she was 96 years old. She was born Oct. 3, 1914 in Wilson, Kan. to Martha Desdia Alderson McKittrick and Joseph Leland McKittrick. She moved to Alaska in 1937 and never left.

Neva came to Valdez in 1937 on the “Teachers Special,” a steamship loaded with teachers returning for their winter jobs. She taught grades 4-6 and music to all levels in the Valdez public schools. She soon met William A. Egan in Valdez; they were married Nov. 16, 1940. Later Neva joined Bill in operating their Valdez grocery store, the Valdez Supply. Their son Dennis was born in 1947. Bill, with Neva by his side, became active in Alaska politics and the fight for statehood. The family moved to Washington, D.C. for 19 months while Bill lobbied for Alaska statehood. After statehood, Bill was elected governor; Neva’s role as Alaska’s first lady was hard work yet very rewarding. Neva treasured the experiences she had and the many people she met; she was very proud to have had a part in Alaska’s history. She took great delight in retelling stories of her life in Alaska, particularly those of early statehood. Neva was active in community and political affairs, and many boards and commissions. Neva was a gifted pianist, and she loved to sing the Alaska Flag Song. Her family wrote “she had a wonderful sense of humor, and gift of laughter. She will be greatly missed.”

She is survived by her son, Dennis and daughter-in-law Linda; her granddaughters and their husbands, Jill Egan and Sandy Vergano, and Leslie Egan and Tyler Malstrom; and brother Richard McKittrick. She was preceded in death by her husband, Bill Egan, daughter, Elin Carol Egan, and sisters, Helen Spiegelberg, Margaret McKittrick and Josephine Trowbridge.

A celebration of life will be planned at a future date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Neva Egan to the William A. Egan Scholarship, in care of the University of Alaska Foundation, P.O. Box 755080, Fairbanks, AK 99775.

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