Douglas resident Hugh Malone, a former speaker of the Alaska House of
Representatives, was killed in a boating accident while vacationing in
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
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
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
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
Bill McAllister can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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