Palin dedicates legislative building

Late Judge Stewart remembered as legal scholar, war hero and Juneau legislator

Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Alaska's top political and judicial leaders met in front of the Alaska Capitol and Dimond Courthouse Monday to name a new legislative office building after Judge Thomas Stewart, who died Dec. 12, 2007.

Gov. Sarah Palin signed Senate Bill 29 during a ceremony held on the plaza near the Capitol, naming the former Scottish Rite Temple after Stewart, who she called an "exemplary Alaskan." It will now be called the Thomas B. Stewart Legislative Office Building.

Stewart was a war hero, receiving the Silver Star and other honors while serving with the famed 10th Mountain Division during World War II. He was also a member of the territorial House of Representatives, state Senate and served as secretary of the Constitutional Convention. He is considered one of the state's most highly regarded judges.

Chief Justice Dana Fabe called it fitting that such a building should be named after a man that each branch of government wanted to claim for its own.

"He understood the need for cooperation and collaboration between our three branches," she said.

The newly renovated Stewart Building is scheduled to open this fall.

Fellow Supreme Court Justice Walter "Bud" Carpeneti of Juneau thanked the Juneau legislative delegation for sponsoring the bill. The building will be a celebration of the life of a wonderful person, he said.

One of Stewart's children, Caleb Stewart of Juneau, thanked the governor and the Legislature, represented on the sunny but chilly plaza by Sen. Dennis Egan and Rep. Beth Kerttula, both Juneau Democrats.

Stewart said he and his family appreciated the honor, but that his father wouldn't have wanted all of the attention.

"Dad would kill us right now," he said with a grin.

Naming the building will help keep alive the ideals Judge Stewart lived in his life, Caleb Stewart said.

"It's all about the people who are still with us, and the people yet to come," he said.

Looking around at the dozens of people gathered for the bill signing, Stewart said his dad would have not sought the honors others wanted to give him.

"He'd say, 'Oh, that's not necessary.'"

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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