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Pioneer biologist left legacy in Alaska resource management

Rupe Andrews dies at 77 after a lifetime of work for environment

Posted: Friday, March 30, 2007

Longtime Juneau resident and pioneering Alaska fisheries biologist Rupe Andrews, 77, died at home Wednesday due to complications from colon cancer.

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"He was just an old-time Alaskan that loved Alaska and the spirit that was in this state," said his son, Brian Andrews.

Rupe Andrews stepped down from the Alaska Board of Fisheries on March 1.

Born Sept. 18, 1929, in New Haven, Conn., he moved to Alaska in 1959 and became one of the first biologists in the sport fish division of the newly formed Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Before retiring in 1982, he spent 13 years as director of the division.

Bob Thorstenson, president of the United Fishermen of Alaska, said Andrews had a balanced perspective when it came to resource management and always kept in mind the needs of all user groups.

"He was one of the stalwarts of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for decades," Thorstenson said. "He was a part of the team that brought 20th century and 21st century fish and wildlife management to the pinnacle of success in Alaska."

He called Andrews one of the finest men ever to work on state resource issues.

"He thought first and foremost for the people and the resources of Alaska," Thorstenson said. "He was just an absolute class act, and we are just heartbroken and saddened that we weren't able to spend more time with him."

He lived for public service, said daughter-in-law Joyce Andrews.

"Alaska was just such a huge part of who he was," she said. "He was part of Alaska, but Alaska was part of him."

In addition to the Board of Fisheries, Andrews also served on the Alaska Board of Forestry, the Alaska Trails and Recreation Commission, and spent eight years on the public advisory group to the Exxon Valdez Board of Trustees. He also spent nearly a decade as a field representative for the National Rifle Association for Alaska.

Andrews also was a board member of Cancer Connection at the time of his death. The organization is sponsoring a Men's Health Forum on colon cancer Wednesday, at Centennial Hall.

"He fought to the end, and he was a true champion of commercial and sport and subsistence fishing and guided fishing and hunting," Thorstenson said.

• Eric Morrison can be reached at eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.



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