Haines borough manager dies, 58

Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Haines Borough Manager Marco Pignalberi died of a massive heart attack early today, city officials said.

Pignalberi, 58, was taken to the SEARHC Clinic in Haines late Monday night after suffering a mild heart attack, said Haines Borough Mayor Mike Case. Pignalberi suffered a second, more serious heart attack around 9 a.m. today that killed him, said Case.

Pignalberi had been borough manager since November 2001.

Case said Pignalberi planned to stay in Haines only a short time before "sliding" into retirement.

"He came to us from Anchorage, but always had plans to stay on with us for only about two or three years before moving to Southern California to be closer to his kids," Case said. "He wanted to learn how to be a small-town city manager so he could continue doing that when he moved to California. He was going to try to slide into retirement."

Pignalberi, originally from Syracuse, N.Y., served in Anchorage as assistant commissioner for the state Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and worked for former Anchorage mayors George Sullivan and Tom Fink.

Pignalberi served in the Alaska Legislature from 1984 to 1986. In 2000, he made a run at an Senate seat in Anchorage in the Republican primary, losing to former Rep. Terry Martin.

His political career also included a position as chief of staff for the Alaska House of Representatives Rules Committee, director of the state House Committee on International Trade and Tourism, and several other leadership roles dating back to 1969.

Even though he took the job in Haines, he continued to commute to his home in Anchorage, where his wife resides.

"She's just devastated by this," Case said. "They were very, very close. ... Everyone is going to feel this loss. It's just a tremendous loss."

Melanie Plenda can be reached mplenda@juneauempire.com.

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