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Ex-legislator Hugh Malone dies in Italy

Posted: Thursday, March 08, 2001

Douglas resident Hugh Malone, a former speaker of the Alaska House of

Representatives, was killed in a boating accident while vacationing in

Italy.

Malone and his wife, Deb Vogt, were both involved in the accident, but

Vogt's injuries were not critical, "as far as we know," said Attorney

General Bruce Botelho, who employs Malone's daughter Alanna.

"We're all kind of stunned," Botelho said this morning.

No details of the accident, including when it occurred, were available by

mid-afternoon.

But the loss of Malone, 57, was immediately grieved in the Capitol. Gov.

Tony Knowles ordered state flags lowered to half-staff.

"One of the great leaders of our state, and there just never was or will

be anybody like him." said Juneau Democratic Rep. Beth Kerttula, fighting

through tears. "It's just a terrible loss. There's just no way to measure a

loss like this."

"He was a bright, articulate guy," said Senate President Rick Halford, a

Chugiak Republican.

Malone, a Democrat who was speaker in 1977-78 during 12 years

representing the Kenai Peninsula, was one of the prime movers behind

creation of the Alaska Permanent Fund, by many accounts.

"It was really Hugh who put the idea down on paper," said former Senate

President Chancy Croft of Anchorage, a contemporary of Malone's.

"He was integral to the whole idea," said Joe Geldhof, Malone's friend

and attorney. "He was modest enough he didn't go around tooting his horn

about being father of the permanent fund. He would recoil at the thought of

being called the father of the permanent fund."

Several observers say that Malone, along with legislators Clark Gruening

of Anchorage and Terry Gardiner of Ketchikan and Gov. Jay Hammond, were key

to winning support for the constitutional amendment creating the oil wealth

savings fund, now worth about $26.5 billion.

Hammond vetoed Malone's original bill setting up the permanent fund under

state law, voicing concerns about the constitutionality of a dedicated fund

and also the danger that future legislatures would tamper with it. He

persuaded Malone and others that the constitutional amendment route was the

way to go.

Malone also was tenacious in making sure the state was fairly compensated

for its natural resources. Geldhof called him "a strong independent voice

against corporate interests from outside of Alaska."

"In his own slightly quirky way, he managed to assemble governing

coalitions that worked for Alaska and Alaskans," Geldhof said.

Both as a legislator and as revenue commissioner under Gov. Steve Cowper

in the late 1980s, Malone left his mark on every tax policy in the state,

Botelho said. "He was unconventional, never hesitated to question long-held

assumptions about the way things should be done."

Kerttula said Malone was always forward-looking.

But she most vividly recalled his "tremendous compassion."

"He never placed himself, despite his immense brilliance, he never placed

himself above other people," insisting on the inherent worth of all human

beings, she said.

She recalled an impish sense of humor, also. When Kerttula was an

assistant attorney general and an opposing lawyer was threatening to file a

complaint against her with the state bar, Malone, referring to the open

space in the middle of the State Office Building, cracked: "Would you like

me to throw him over the edge?"

Kerttula's father, former Senate President and House Speaker Jay Kerttula

of Palmer, said: "Hugh was a real leader. I would categorize Hugh as one of

the top 10 legislators the state ever had, in whatever order you want to put

him."

Caren Robinson of Juneau, who was director of the local battered woman's

shelter in the early 1980s, worked with Malone on legislation creating the

state Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in the Department of

Public Safety. "He was definitely a friend to women and children in this

state," she said.

When Malone left the Legislature in 1984, he walked into the governor's

residence not realizing the reception being held was for him, said Mike

Miller of Juneau, a longtime legislator who was House majority leader when

Malone was speaker. Hearing the applause upon his entrance, Malone turned to

see who it was for, Miller said.

In addition to Malone's intelligence, Miller said he was struck by his

colleague's sense of fairness. When Malone was finance committee chairman,

"the meetings went on and on and on because Hugh was not going to cut off

anybody," he said.

Malone was born Jan. 22, 1944, in Catskill, New York. He came to Alaska

in 1958. He was a land surveyor for the Alaska National Guard for six years,

and served on the Kenai City Council and Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly

before being elected to the Legislature in 1972. He apparently moved to

Juneau about the time he was appointed revenue commissioner.

In recent years, he reportedly did some consulting work and represented

fishermen at the Capitol but was semi-retired, according to friends. He was

prominent in the top local issue of 2000, however, insisting on bringing a

tape recorder to flight-noise mediation meetings. Malone filed for a

restraining order to prevent the mediator from banning tape recording,

prompting the cancellation of one meeting.

Malone is survived by three children, Alanna and Rory of Juneau, and

Shevaun of Colorado. Their mother and Malone's first wife, Christine, is

deceased.

Bill McAllister can be reached at billm@juneauempire.com.



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