IN MEMORIAM 2006
March 17, 2006
Long-time Bethel Magistrate Craig McMahon died March 17, 2006, after a long illness.
Magistrate McMahon served the Alaska Court System in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region for over 28 years, beginning as magistrate in Aniak in 1977 and continuing from 1984-2006 as a magistrate in Bethel.
Originally from Connecticut, McMahon first came to Alaska in 1976 to serve as a VISTA attorney with Alaska Legal Services Corporation in Bethel. In a recent oral history taken in January 2006, McMahon recounted many experiences from his years on the Delta and the reasons why he always chose to make his home there. His fond recollections ranged from the "tremendous patch of raspberries" behind the Aniak courthouse to the "very cozy" metal shipping container-with a home-made window that served as his early home in Bethel.
Living in the region allowed him to run dog teams, garden, pursue his love of nature, and enjoy the Yu’pik culture. For many years, he volunteered for the Camai Dance Festival, studied the Yu’pik language, and was an avid collector of Yu’pik art. He was also known for the lavish feasts he would prepare for holidays and special occasions. Magistrate McMahon is remembered by his colleagues at the court system for distinguished service, hard work and dedication to the people of the Y-K Delta.
Jan. 24, 2006
(Editor’s note: The following is Linda Durr’s reminiscence of her friendship with Ben Walters, in correspondence with the Anchorage Bar Association Board of Directors in January.)
As many knew, Ben had a history of heart issues and had a new pacer-defibrillator inserted about 6 weeks ago at UCLA Medical Center. This was a replacement for a lower-tech version he had implanted about 5 years ago that had been working well until recently. He told me after the meeting that even though he had been cleared by his doctors to resume his regular routine, he was anxious about how this new device that was regulating his heart and he was trying to get used to it.
I have known Ben and Netta (Annette) Walters for almost 30 years. I first met Ben when he joined the law practice of Charles Cranston and a couple of others in about 1977, known at the time as Gallagher, Cranston & Snow, and then Cranston, Walters & Dahl. I was Chuck Cranston’s secretary at the time. Later, Chuck Cranston was appointed to the Superior Court bench in Kenai, and the partnership eventually dissolved.
Ben and Chuck Cranston were friends long before they were law partners. But they were total opposites in personalities, and they got great pleasure in poking fun at each other. Chuck was in the office at 7 a.m. and had got through a day’s work by noon, was the all-consuming health fitness nut, running 15 miles a day and putting wheat germ on everything, and Ben arrived at 11:00 a.m., and at that time ate the donuts, and we had to bug him at the end of the month to bill anyone for his legal work. Ben always took pity on his "poor", downtrodden client (and a lot of them were) and couldn’t bring himself to bill a cent.
For those fairly new to the Anchorage Bar Association Board who may not have had the opportunity to get to know Ben well, he had such a big, generous heart and would help anyone who asked him.
He was on the Anchorage Bar Board before I came along as the admin director in 1990-91. He was our Santa Claus at the Christmas parties in the early 1990s, and he was on the Finance, St. Pat’s Party and the summer picnic committees every year. He always volunteered if there was a need on the Board. And we all know that Ben prolonged many a meeting with his reminisces and stories of "how things used to be" on the Board! He was just as active in the general community as he was on our Board. I don’t profess to know all his activities, and I’m sure they will be detailed more accurately in his obituary; however, when he left the Finance Committee meeting last Tuesday, despite the unease with his new bionics, he was on his way to the adult learning center where he was to tutor students for the GED, as he did on a regular basis. That was so typical of Ben.
Jan. 10, 2006
Criminal defense attorney Bill Bryson, of Anchorage, died Jan. 10 in his home. He was 58. He was found by friends at his West 15th Avenue home, a victim of a gunshot wound that was pronounced as suicide.
At the time of his death, he was on the Anchorage Parks and Recreation Commission and was passionately committed to building a track-and-field facility for kids in Mountain View, said attorney and longtime friend Nancy Shaw.
A law graduate of the University of California Berkeley, Bryson came to Alaska in 1972 to work in Juneau for Alaska Supreme Court Justice Robert Boochever.
During his career, Bryson tried a number of high-profile criminal cases, including the defense of Neil Mackay (acquitted of killing Alaska Airlines pilot Robert Pfeil); Andrew Nelson (convicted of killing former girlfriend Sandra Pogany); and Scott Walker (convicted of kidnapping pioneer Mildred Walatka but acquitted of killing her.)
Bryson served on the board of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. His colleagues in the bar said he was frequently willing to offer advice "whenever we had a situation one of us hadn’t faced before," attorney Rex Butler told the Anchorage Daily News. "He had faced them all."
Bryson was known as witty, entertaining, and flawlessly dressed for his profession. He was a sports fan and regularly flew to Stanford University, his undergraduate alma mater, for football games and other college sporting events, said former Anchorage deputy police chief Del Smith, who often went with him.
"This is a hell of a business," said Butler, a busy local defense attorney. "It has a long history of destroying people. You can’t just leave it at the office."
"What Bill did best was stand-up lawyering," said former Superior Court Judge Doug Serdahely, who organized a memorial get-together of Bryson’s friends Jan. 27. "He was very good in trial, with juries, witnesses. That was where his passions were. ... But like a lot of talented people, he was not good at the mundane stuff, running a law firm, running your own life." At the time of his death, Bryson faced IRS liens.
"He was liked and appreciated by all those he touched, from the man in the cell to the judge on the bench," said colleague Phil Weidner. "He cared about people. He tried to help. Inside he understood life because he lived it."
Friends gathered at Josephine’s restaurant for the Jan. 27 memorial with a sumptuous buffet, open bar, band, and an open microphone to celebrate Bryson’s vigor in life.
IN MEMORIAM, 2005
Harold W. Tobey
Former Alaska resident Harold Wayne "Hal" Tobey, 73, died Nov. 20, 2005, in Springfield, Colo., with his family at his side. A service was Nov. 23 at First Baptist Church in Springfield.
He was born Aug. 11, 1932, in Springfield to Orvil and Pauline Tobey. After high school, Mr. Tobey joined the Air Force and married E. Maxine "Max" Williams on May 3, 1952. After his discharge, he attended the University of Denver, where he received his bachelor’s degree and a juris doctorate in law.
In 1968, he moved his family to Juneau and served as a district attorney for the State of Alaska and in 1971 as city attorney in Anchorage. He attended First Presbyterian Church in Anchorage.
Mr. Tobey retired from private practice in 1998 and moved with his wife to Loveland, Colo. He was involved in the local Rotary Club and enjoyed fly-fishing and his beloved quarter horses, Rocket and Little Red.
"Hal was a dedicated and loving husband. He enjoyed his friends and had a passion for music and learning," his family said. "Our dad always had a smile on his face and worked hard to provide a great life for our family. We always looked up to him and felt blessed to have had such a wonderful father," said his children.
He is survived by his son, Gregory Tobey; wife, Marcia; grandchildren, Evin and Cara of Seattle; daughter, Elizabeth Butcher, and her husband, Bryan; and grandchildren, Alison and Lucas of Anchorage. He was preceded in death by his wife, Maxine, in October 2004, and son, Geoffrey Tobey, in November 1964.
Contributions may be made to the American Diabetes Association.
Mark E. Merdes
Mark Edward Merdes, of Fairbanks, passed away suddenly on Nov. 15, 2005 among friends. He was born in Pennsylvania on Dec. 16, 1951, to Edward and Norma Merdes. His family moved to Juneau in 1952, and to Fairbanks in 1957. Mark was a partner in the law firm of Merdes & Merdes PC with his brother Ward.
Mark has joyfully affected the lives of many, said his family. He honored Joan, his wife of 30 years, with deep love, respect and laughter. He was a good man who raised his children in kindness, love and by good example. He was respected by his friends as a man of integrity. Mark has left a lasting impression upon the people he has had the privilege to know. He was greatly loved and admired by those who knew him.
Mark always made himself available to his family and friends to talk with them and be there for support. His genuine interest and concern helped him reach out to others. Mark took joy on the accomplishments of others and shared their sorrows.
An athlete throughout life, Mark was a Fairbanks Goldpanners "all-time first everyday local player," and, said the team in memoriam, "a large contributor to the great 1971 National Baseball Congress Nationals runner-up club (hitting .352 in 122 at-bats)."
He continued his love for baseball as coach for the Lathrop High School Girl’s Fast Pitch Softball team and as coach for the Interior Girls Softball Association (IGSA). Mark’s great love of the sport and his "girls" was apparent every day on the field. His youthful enthusiasm and love for the game and his girls came out nearly every minute on the practice and game field. He loved working with the girls, teaching them to play a game they all loved. He hope was for each girl who dreamed of playing college ball to do so, and he helped them accomplish it in any way he could.
Mark obtained a BA (finance) at Santa Clara University, magna cum laude; his JD at California Western School of Law; and his LL.M degree (taxation) at the University of San Diego Law School. He was a member of the Alaska Bar Association, American Bar Association, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, and Alaska Academy of Trial Lawyers and was licensed to practice in the federal courts.
He was preceded in death by his father Edward and mother Norma; brother Robert; and brother-in-law Brendan Sandiford.
Mark will be remembered by his wife Joan; their son and daughter-in-law Matthew and Francesca and their children, Alex and Katie; his son Brian; his daughter Nicki; and mother-in-law Sarah Gavelis. He also leaves behind his brother Ward and his wife Lori; sister and brother-in-law Theresa and Peter Menard and their daugher Danielle; sisters Beth Sandiford and Marlene Merdes; and sister-in-law Sherrie Merdes, as well as many nieces and nephews.
His family said he also leaves special friends, including Brandon Glaze, Togi Letuligasenoa, Jerry Cleworth, Rod Avery, Todd Schallock, Alan Kelley and the Interior Wing Team, Larry Wick and classmates from the Split Second Survival Group, Chris Maninno, and the Interior Girls Softball Association family.
Mark’s life was celebrated Nov. 22 at the Dog Musher’s Hall in Fairbanks. Contributions in his memory may be made to the Mark Merdes Scholarship Fund at Credit Union 1, to aid his "girls" in following their dreams of college ball.
Stuart C. Hall
Stuart Campen Hall, 70, died Nov. 9, 2005, at his home on Government Hill in Anchorage. He was very involved with community and Alaska affairs until his death.
A fifth-generation native of San Jose, Calif., Mr. Hall was born June 18, 1935. He received a bachelor’s degree with honors from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1957, a master’s degree in political science from Stanford University in 1961 and a law degree from Harvard University in 1964.
In 1971, Mr. Hall came to Alaska and worked as legislative counsel before serving seven years on the Alaska Public Utilities Commission. In 1984, he opened a private practice and subsequently served as ombudsman for the state of Alaska from 1994 to 1997. Thereafter, he devoted himself to Anchorage through a variety of community activities.
His most active affiliations included the Alaska Bar Association, American Philatelic Society, Anchorage East Rotary Club, Anchorage Museum Association, Alaska Antique Automushers, Cal Club, the Episcopal Church, Government Hill Community Council, Harvard Club, Stanford Club and U.S. Air Force Reserve (lieutenant colonel retired).
Mr. Hall loved vintage automobiles and owned several, including a 1941 Buick Ltd. convertible. He was also an avid stamp collector and enthusiastic promoter of the state Marine Highway and Alaska Railroad. In pursuit of his interest in ferry travel, he opened Viva Alaska! Travel and Viva Alaska! Enterprises.
His family wrote: "Stu probably invented the motto ’high on Government Hill,’ and during his 29 years on Colwell Street, he was indeed that: never missing his daily rounds of the neighborhood with his dog Pal and always willing to stop and chat. Pal has been given a good home on the Kenai Peninsula. Stu’s energy and friendship will be missed by all who knew him."
He is survived by his brothers, Marshall Randall Hall of Saratoga, Calif., and Clayton Hall of San Luis Obispo, Calif.; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
William R. Smith
William Ron Smith died in a traffic accident on the Parks Highway south of Fairbanks Oct. 15. He had recently retired as a Fairbanks magistrate, serving for 15 years. He was 62.
Magistrate Patrick Hammers, who worked with Smith since 1999, said Smith had been the happiest he’d ever seen him in recent months and described his death as deeply sad. "He just glowed," with the prospect of traveling and enjoying his retirement, Hammers told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
The crash happened about 8 a.m. at 275 Mile Parks Highway about a mile south of the Tatlanika Trading Co., a trooper statement said. Truck driver Kenneth Lincoln, 62, of Anchorage was unhurt.
Smith had been substitute teaching elementary school students in Healy, where his wife worked, Steinkruger said. The newlyweds planned to take cruises together this winter, according to friends.
Born in Elk City, Okla., Smith later earned his law degree from the University of Oklahoma. He served as assistant staff judge advocate in the U.S. Air Force for several years before he became the staff judge advocate at Eielson Air Force Base in 1974.
Upon retiring from the Air Force in 1979, Smith entered private practice with the law firm Staley, DeLisio, Cook and Sherry in Fairbanks. In 1981, Smith became deputy city attorney for Fairbanks. He was appointed magistrate for the 4th Judicial District of Alaska in 1990.
Smith maintained an active social schedule, regularly attending stage plays and concerts, friends said. He belonged to the Alaska Bar Association and the local running community, meshing the two by organizing an Tanana Valley Bar Association run that lead off with an ambulance, with attorneys giving chase.
Presiding Judge Niesje Steinkruger described Smith as an "unsung hero of the criminal justice system."
"He worked weekends," she said. "He worked holidays. He got up in the middle of the night and drove to the courthouse hundreds of times. He felt like he was a public servant."
Charles M. "Mac" Gibson
Alaska lost a friend when Charles M. "Mac" Gibson died of cancer October 13, 2005 in Charleston, S.C.
Mac was born in 1932 and was 73 at the time of his death. In this wonderfully diverse community, Mac was one of our most eclectic and interesting members.
Mac was raised on Yonges Island, near Charleston. His formative years were heavily influenced by his nanny, "Gallie." Gallie was a descendant of slaves of the area, and spoke Gullah, the dialect of her ancestors unique to the coastal islands of South Carolina. As a result Mac will always be remembered for his rich and melodious accent which he said was distinguishable from other Charlestonians due to Gallie’s early influence. He always said he was the only person in Fairbanks whose voice was so recognizable that he couldn’t make an anonymous phone call.
Mac obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and his law degree from the University of South Carolina. He was an officer in the United States Army from 1954 to 1956.
After law school Mac entered private practice in Charleston. He felt privileged to practice among such luminaries as (later U.S. Senator) Fritz Hollings and renowned trial lawyer Gedney Howe, Jr. In fact, Mac is mentioned frequently in the late Howe’s biography.
While practicing law in Charleston, Mac served as a judge, a member of the state House of Representatives and the state Senate. He is remembered for his courtly charm and his championing of educational and environmental issues, which were not popular causes at the time. Regarding Mac’s defense of education his fellow legislator Joseph McGee said: "The contest was acrimonious and at times mean spirited. And in the end it devastated my friend Mac Gibson, both physically and emotionally."
In 1979 Mac was looking for a new start, in new surroundings. His friend, Sen. Hollings, suggested a position in Helsinki, Finland. On the cusp of committing to Helsinki Mac learned that the far off and remote City of Fairbanks was looking for a City Attorney. He put the Helsinki job on hold and interviewed with Fairbanks Mayor Harold Gillam. They developed an instant rapport and became lifelong friends. In fact, Mac never mentioned Harold’s name without preceding it with the words "my dear friend. . ."
Mac accepted the offered job and arrived in Fairbanks in 1980. He quickly became an enthusiastic Alaskan. From his flower bedecked home atop Chena Ridge with his dog Charley, Mac cherished his view of the Alaska Range and could name every major peak. His home belied his love of quality art and furniture and fine shotguns.
While in Fairbanks Mac served as City Attorney, Deputy City Manager, and Area Court Administrator for the Alaska Court System. After retiring from the Court System, Mac maintained a small private practice from his home.
Having grown up in the South Carolina "low country" Mac loved to hunt ducks. He often relived that part of his youth in the September chill in the Minto Flats. He also loved to fish, but was notoriously unsuccessful at it. He often boasted that his mere presence would jinx an entire fishing party, a phenomenon he laughingly called "The Gibson Curse."
In failing health, Mac left Fairbanks in 2002 to return to South Carolina. He loved Alaska and to his final days he planned to return. In keeping with his wishes, his ashes will be scattered here. May he rest in peace.
An important era in the history of Alaska and the Alaskan judicial system came to a close with the passing of retired District Court Judge Nora Guinn on July 6, 2005. A brief look at her career reminds us of earlier days when Alaskans dealt with the problems of their communities with practical wisdom and common sense and of how much Alaska has changed in a single lifetime.
Nora was born to Joe and Anna Venes of Akiak, Alaska on November 11, 1920 and grew up in that small Native community. She attended the Eklutna Boarding School and a high school in Portland, Oregon before she met and married Charlie Guinn in Bethel in 1939. They moved to the village of Tununak where Charlie and Nora taught school for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and, in those days before modern communications and scheduled air service, did double duty as health aides and as advisors and negotiators with the outside world. In 1945 the growing Guinn family moved to Bethel, where Charlie and Nora would raise 10 children and care for numerous others needing a temporary home.
Nora is best known for her contributions to the Alaska Judicial System. In territorial days she dispensed local justice as a United States Commissioner and, after statehood, became Bethel’s first magistrate.
In 1967 she was elevated to the position of District Court Judge with the Alaska Court System, one of the few non-lawyers to ever hold this judicial office. As a judge, and together with her colleague and friend, Magistrate Sadie Brower Neakok of Barrow, Nora Guinn helped Alaska’s legal system and its policemen, lawyers and judges, pay attention to and understand the concerns, needs and viewpoint of the first Alaskans, Alaska’s Native people.
Once, in a speech to the first Bush Justice Conference in 1970, to an audience which included Alaska’s Chief Justice George Boney, lawyers, law professors, state commissioners and other experts, Judge Guinn began her remarks with a statement several minutes long entirely in Eskimo. Then she asked the bewildered assembly how that felt, and pointed out that Eskimo people in court feel the same way about the judicial system.
Judge Guinn often conducted court in both English and Yupik Eskimo so the people there "usually criminal defendants" would understand why they were there, the procedure, and what the law (or, more correctly, Judge Guinn) expected of them. Occasionally she would digress and translate what was happening into English so the lawyers and the officers wouldn’t be left too far behind. I was one of those lawyers who appeared before her often in the early 1970’s. Rarely did I hear a litigant or a community member disagree with one of her decisions, and I don’t recall ever appealing one to a higher court.
Judge Guinn demanded, and received, respect. She did so not for herself but, instead, for the legal system and the people involved in it. I remember thinking that things should be done differently. As a young lawyer who came to Alaska to get away from the buttoned-down business world of the Lower 48, my generation believed we could grow our hair long and dress as we pleased because conformity was out and we should be free to do our own thing.
Judge Guinn wasn’t buying it. But she didn’t get her way just by dictating a set of rules and ordering the lawyers to follow them. Instead, she’d point out that for the people coming into her court in Bethel, this was a big event in their lives and, if they were there with a lawyer, the lawyer should look like one. If we had a client who was a rich person or a big corporation in the city, she said, we would have that coat and tie on and look the part. Clients in her court deserved no less, she believed. I cleaned up my act.
Nora Guinn served as District Court Judge for nearly 10 years. During those years Bethel changed from a frontier outpost served by circuit-riding Superior Court judges and attorneys to a regional center with resident district attorneys, public defenders and probation officers. Despite the increasing complexity of the system and her lack of formal legal education, Nora continued to lead, educating the lawyers and law enforcement officers about the Native way of doing and looking at things, and about fairness and justice for all.
Nora was made a special master of the Superior Court so she could hear cases involving placement of children, and often produced results never thought of by the social workers and attorneys because of her knowledge of the local people and the area. Until her retirement in 1976, Judge Guinn continued to hold hearings in both Eskimo and English, serving as interpreter for the non-English-speaking participants, and she continued to be held in the highest esteem by all those who appeared before her and by the Alaska Court System.
Although fluent in two languages, there was one word Judge Guinn apparently did not know: the word can’t. Undoubtedly along the way there were those who said, You can’t be a judge because you’re a woman, or You can’t because you are a Native, or You can’t because you don’t have a college degree or a law school education. But these obstacles didn’t stop Nora Guinn. Hidden within her tiny frame was fierce determination and an iron will which enabled her to do whatever she set her mind to, and showing that she didn’t believe in the word can’t. She could, and she did.
Nora Guinn was an Alaskan original. She enriched the lives of all those who knew her. Bethel, the villages and the state of Alaska are better places because of all she did. Hers was a life well-lived and an example for others to follow. We may never see another like her.
’ Christopher R. Cooke, former Superior Court Judge, Bethel (1976-1986).
Ron Zobel, who arrived in Alaska in 1978 as a clerk to U.S. District Judge James von der Heydt, died Jan. 26, 2005 from complications of cancer. He was 60.
Following his clerkship with Judge von der Heydt, Mr. Zobel went into private practice in 1981 and became an assistant attorney general for the state in 1988, where he served until 2003.
He was born Dec. 13, 1944, in Pender, Neb., to Irene and Marvin Zobel. He served in the U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets) as a medic.
He met and married Patricia (Penny) in 1970, and the couple served in the Peace Corps in the Philippines soon thereafter. He worked as a seasonal ranger for the National Park Service in Olympic, North Cascades, Mount Rainier and Everglades National Parks.
Mr. Zobel attended undergraduate school in Iowa and finished his bachelor’s degree at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash. Both he and Penny later graduated from the Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, where he graduated magna cum laude, and was editor-in-chief of the Law Review.
For much of his law career in Alaska, he served as an assistant attorney general for public utility matters. But he was perhaps best known to the public for the landmark Permanent Fund lawsuit he and his wife filed in 1980, arguing equal protection (or, in this case, compensation) under the Constitution for the distribution of dividend checks to Alaskans. Ultimately prevailing in the U.S. Supreme Court, the Zobels’ lawsuit overturned the state’s plan to distribute dividends based on length of residence.
Mr. Zobel had been fighting esophageal cancer since last summer, and died of pneumonia at Providence Alaska Medical Center, weakened from recent bouts of treatment, colleague Bill Parker told the Anchorage Daily News in January.
"Ron worked in private practice as a lawyer but was happiest working to serve the public as an assistant attorney general at the Alaska Department of Law," his family wrote. "While known for the Permanent Fund dividend case, Ron also dedicated his time to Democratic politics and local causes. He loved the national parks, music, art, history and travel. Everything he did was with passion and for the love of knowledge."
Last year, Zobel and Parker took off on a motor tour of 22 states, concentrating on national parks in the West. They slept in Zobel’s new Toyota Highlander.
As they drove across Iowa, where both Parker and Zobel have relatives, Parker asked, "what if we’d just stayed here? " Parker recalled. "He said, ’If I’d stayed here, I’d probably have been a member of the Legislature, but I’d have been a Republican’," Parker remembered.
He also said that a doctor had told Zobel in January that he had two weeks to two months to live. Zobel drank a glass of red wine with his friend and colleague at Providence "and talked about his life, saying he had a successful marriage and his son was completely raised," said Parker.
Mr. Zobel is survived by his wife of 34 years, Penny; their son, Wade; his father, Marvin Zobel of Oelwein, Iowa; and his brother, Dwight Zobel, of Plymouth, Minn.
A memorial service was held at the 4th Avenue Theatre; memorial bequests should be made to Safe Harbor Inn, a shelter for homeless families in Anchorage, at 1905 E. Fourth Ave.
IN MEMORIAM, 2004
Hon. Samuel D. Adams
Anchorage District Court Judge Samuel D. Adams, 48, died Tuesday, September 21, 2004, while on a hunting trip. Born in Anchorage in 1956, Judge Adams was a 1980 graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage and received his law degree from the University of Oregon in 1985. He served as a Law Clerk for Palmer Superior Court Judge Beverly Cutler from 1985-86, then worked in private practice for several years before joining the Alaska Department of Law in 1988. From 1988-1999, he served as a state prosecutor in a variety of capacities, pursuing welfare fraud cases, felony property crimes, and fish and game violations, among other matters. Judge Adams was appointed to the Anchorage District Court by Governor Tony Knowles in 1999 and served with great distinction until his untimely death.
Throughout his tenure on the bench, Judge Adams impressed both those who worked with him and those who appeared before him with his compassion, his thoroughness, and his ever-friendly manner. According to Anchorage Clerk of Court Alyce Roberts, "he worked well with everyone because he was so down-to-earth and easy to talk to. His death is a tragic loss to all of us, and it’s a very sad day at the Anchorage courthouse."
Chief Justice Alexander Bryner of the Alaska Supreme Court remembers Judge Adams as "a fine jurist whose warm sense of humor, wealth of life experience, and personable nature brought a needed human touch to court proceedings. He respected everyone and handled cases with great care. In turn, he enjoyed wide respect from attorneys, litigants, and his fellow judicial officers. The people of Alaska have lost a dedicated public servant, and we at the court have lost a very good friend."
Judge Adams is survived by his wife, Catherine Call, and three children. The Alaska Court System extends its deepest sympathy to his family.
John Jason ’Jake’ Ketscher
John Jason ’Jake’ Ketscher died Friday, April 9, 2004. He was 31.
Mr. Ketscher was born March 28, 1973, in Fairbanks, to David and Tamara Ketscher. The next day, he was on a bush plane to Bettles, where his parents established Sourdough Outfitters and Bettles Trading Post. He shot his first moose at age 9 and mushed a dog team from Anaktuvuk Pass to the Gates of the Arctic at 12. He guided trips in the Brooks Range, achieved Eagle Scout ranking and received his pilot’s license at 17.
"Jake’s parents raised him in the Lord, and he was baptized in the icy Koyukuk River at 12. He read through the Bible almost every year, in addition to classical theology and church history," according to his family.
He attended Bettles Field School for five years, was home schooled for three years and attended high school in California. He graduated from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a major in political science and was recognized as the Outstanding Political Science Student. He received his law degree from the University of Wyoming.
Hired by the state Public Defenders Office, he moved to Kodiak. He married Christy Van Doren on Aug. 5, 2001. On Sept. 20, 2002, their son Paul Arktos Ketscher was born. "The family did not have a television, instead holding family devotions, reading books and taking ’Creation Appreciation’ walks," said his family.
In Kodiak, Mr. Ketscher was active at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, the Lions Club, the City Planning and Zoning Commission and the Public Safety Board. He served as a member-at-large of the UAF Alumni Association. The Ketscher family moved to Kenai in December 2003, when he accepted the position of assistant district attorney.
Mr. Ketscher is survived by wife, Christy; son, Paul Arktos Ketscher; parents, David and Tamara Ketscher of Reedley, Calif.; grandparents, Leon and Peggy Gearhart of Fresno, Calif.; father- and mother-in-law, Philip and Connie Van Doren of North Bend, Ore.
Donations may be made to the Jake Ketscher Memorial Fund at any Wells Fargo Bank.
IN MEMORIAM, 2003
Jon Link: Longtime lawyer, judge held in high esteem by peers
Superior Court Judge Jonathan H. "Jon" Link, 59, died March 25, 2003, at Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna after a short illness. A memorial service was held at the Alaska State Courthouse, 125 Trading Bay Drive, in Kenai.
Judge Link was born Jan. 22, 1944, in Washington, D.C. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in 1965 from Whittier College in California, Judge Link joined the U.S. Army and was posted to Port Wainwright, where he was honorably discharged as a sergeant E-5 in 1969.
Judge Link returned to Alaska in 1972 after obtaining a law degree from Hastings School of Law in San Francisco and was employed by the law firm of Hughes, Thorsness, Lowe, Gantz and Clark in Anchorage for two years. He then returned to Fairbanks as a partner in Johnson, Christensen, Shamberg and Link. From 1976-90, Judge Link continued to serve his clients as a solo practitioner until he was appointed to the Superior Court bench in Kenai by then-Gov. Steve Cowper, a position that he held until his death.
His family said: "Throughout his years in private practice, the esteem with which Judge Link was viewed, particularly because of his dedicated representation of clients, was evidenced by positions to which he was elected and appointed."
Judge Link was elected to the Board of Governors of the Alaska Bar Association in 1978, serving as vice president in 1981. He also served on its Fee Arbitration Committee between 1981-84. In Fairbanks, Judge Link was elected as secretary, vice president, and then president of the Tanana Valley Bar Association.
In early 1991, Judge Link was appointed as administrative judge for the Kenai Peninsula, overseeing the smooth operation of courthouses in Kenai, Seward and Homer, a position he continued to fill until his death. In 1995, his peers elected him to membership on the Alaska Commission of Judicial Conduct, the body charged by law with oversight and discipline of members of the judiciary, a position he held until 1999.
His interests were eclectic, ranging from Northwest Coast Indian art to river boating to carpentry to the construction of stained-glass pieces. He also served as director and treasurer of the Fairbanks Historical Preservation Board, the entity responsible for the restoration of the riverboat Neana. However, of most importance in his life was his family.
Judge Link is survived by his wife of almost 19 Years, Mildred; daughter, Lydia; sisters, Mary Means of Seattle and Barbara Durigan of Fort Brage Calif.; brother, Russell Link of Whidbey Island, Wash.; and stepmother, Thea Link of Walnut Creek. Ca.
His father, George Link, and his mother Blayne, preceded him in death.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial donations be made in Judge Link’s memory to either the Alaskan Bar Foundation, P.O. Box 100279, Anchorage 99510; SPCA of Kenai Peninsula, Inc. P.O. Box 4243, Soldotna 99669; or Fairbanks Historical Preservation Foundation, P.O. Box 70552, Fairbanks 99707.
Friends of Link gathered for a special memorial service in April at the Kenai courthouse. Several of his colleague reminisced on the contributions he made to his profession and Alaska.
Federal district court Judge Ralph Beistline, of Fairbanks, represented federal courts and the Tanana Valley Bar Association at the service, reading a message from 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Andy Kleinfeld.
"We knew each other as lawyers in the rip-roaring, boom-town days of Fairbanks pipeline," write Kleinfeld. Jon came to town to organize the Teamster pre-paid work plan, and he was my idea of what a lawyer ought to be. Besides being capable, intelligent, aggressive, and highly successful on behalf of his clients, John was a consummate gentleman&you could take his word. He was not entirely happy with his life until he met Milli," his wife of nearly three decades.
"In my personal capacity. John Link was one of the good guys," added Beistline. "I met him when he first came to Fairbanks in 1976. I was in the courthouse, just finished clerking, and in walked this big fella, with this warm smile. Jon was there to introduce himself to the judges, and let them know he had arrived in Fairbanks. He convinced us that this was a monumental event.
"I’d heard the legend about Jon Link," said Beistline of his soon-to-be colleague at the Hughes Thorsness office in Fairbanks. "He’d made partner is 18 months. That had never been done before, and never been done since."
"I personally believe that life doesn’t end here, and that Jon has simply moved on to a new chapter. And I suspect that Jon has already introduced himself to the judges, and let everyone in heaven know that he has arrived∧ that it is a monumental event," said Beistline. "There is no question that Jon’s passing leaves a void in our lives."
Judicial colleague Hal Brown recalled that Link "was a very good attorney, and an even better judge." Brown recounted his trip to the Kenai Peninsula, when Link suggested that he apply for the judgeship vacated by Alan Cranston. "Link invited me down from Anchorage&to tour the courthouse, and it was his courthouse," said Brown. Said Link, "Look Hal, there is no better job in the world. Every day there is something new, a challenge that you’ve never had to deal with before. I love this job, and you will, too."
"I’m reminded of scene in the first Star Wars movie," said Brown. "Evil guys had just tested their weapon of mass destructin by blowing up a planet with millions of lives. Obi Wan Kenobi placed his hand on his heart and said, ’A great light has just gone out in the universe’."
Long-time friend and colleague Donna Willard recalled with emotion numerous family-and-friends adventures on the Chena River, and a series of comments from colleagues, jurors and litigants who appeared in Link’s courtroom.
"You have great intellect, honesty, and critical to your duties as a judge, great fairness," said Willard.
"If I were to choose one word that best exemplifies your personality, it would be ’humility. Each person you met was a friend, entitled to respect and courtesy. Another hallmark of humility is modesty, which you had in great measure. Never did you succumb to the ’black robe syndrome.’ The office never changed or overtook you, though you filled it splendidly," said Willard.
James T. Robinson
Former Anchorage attorney and longtime school board member James T. Robinson, 55, died May 11, 2003, at Life Care Center of Aurora in Denver after a two-year battle with multiple myeloma.
He was born May 9, 1948, in Brawley, Calif.
Mr. Robinson was an Alaska resident from 1973 until 1988 and again from 1997 until 2000.
His family wrote: "Jim was a prominent attorney, practicing for many years in Anchorage. He also worked in Barrow, Guam and Denver. He was also lauded for his work on the Anchorage School Board. He served on the board for 10 years, from 1979 until 1988, and serving as president for four.
"His interests included scuba diving, having attained a rating of Master Scuba Diver Trainer. He also loved to fly, and as a pilot attained ratings for commercial, multi-engine, sea plane and instrument flying."
He is survived by his sons and daughter, Brian and Kim Robinson of Denver and Scott Robinson of Boulder, Colo.; half-brother, Frank Robinson of Denver; and his constant companion, Lucy, the golden retriever.
Condolences may be sent to Scott Robinson, 3635 19th St., Boulder, CO 80304.
Richard D. Pennington
On May 14, 2003 Richard D. Pennington passed away at the Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene Oregon where he had been hospitalized for about a week. Dick’s wife Kristi and their daughter Helena were at his side. A small family service was held and Dick’s ashes were scattered over the Oregon Coast close to their family home in Coos Bay, Oregon.
Even though Dick and Kristi continued their law practice in Alaska, they had been spending more of their time in Coos Bay since their daughter Helena started school.
After high school Dick had attended a year of college at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. He worked for a year in a steel mill and knew he wanted something different. It was 1959 and Alaska had just been made a state when he and a friend decided it was time to "go North." At 19, Alaska was an adventure for Dick, one he loved and enjoyed. He worked as a surveyor, a fisherman out of Cordova, a suba diver when the nets fouled the prop of the fishing boat, and a fireman in the National Guard. He graduated from Alaska Methodist University, (nka Alaska Pacific University), and in 1970 was a member of the first day class at the new campus of Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark college in Portland Oregon. Dick graduated in 1973 and was admitted to practice law in Alaska in February 1974. He has always maintained an active practice in Alaska, even though in later years he spent a lot of time at his home on the beach at Coos Bay.
Dick practiced as a partner with Edgar Paul Boyko from 1974 - 1979. He then entered into a partnership with Terry Aglietti and Ron Offret, which thereafter took on a variety of names. He always wanted a law firm known as Richard D. Pennington and Associates so he married Kristi Nelson and they have since practiced law together. He always said that Kristi was the brains of the law firm, but you have to give Dick some credit - he got her to marry him.
Dick had an engaging smile and ingratiating personality. He will be missed by his friends and the legal community.
Former Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. general counsel Harry Gregg Brelsford died May 7 at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle. He was 78 and succumbed to congestive heard failure.
Brelsford had been living in Washington since 1992 after he retired from the practice of law. Born in Houston, TX, he received his law degree from the University of Texas after service in World War II. He was called to duty and May 1943, received the Purple Heart after being wounded in action in St. Die, France. He also served at Pearl Harbor.
Following his graduation from law school, Brelsford became an associate at Vinson & Elkins in Houston and married Diane Bowyer in 1949. His law career moved his family from Houston to Billings, Denver, and ultimately Anchorage. He lived in Anchorage for 18 years and became Alyeska general counsel in 1980, remaining in that position until he retired in 1988.
Brelsford was a devout member of the Episcopal church since the 1950s, serving in the vestry and other capacities. His family has written that activities he enjoyed included golfing, fishing, designing model trains, traveling, avid reading, and crossword puzzles. He especially enjoyed his grandchildren, and "he was a natural comic, always good for a laugh to cheer one up. A plainspoken and compassionate man, he was known for his honesty, integrity and kindness.
He is survived by his wife, the Rev. Diane; five children, Gregg, Taylor, James, Virginia, and Harry; four daughters-in-law; a son-in-law; nine grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; sister Nancy Brelsford Thawley; and a niece, Virginia Thawley. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the charity of donor’s choice.
Kenneth Robert Lamb died April 9 at Providence Alaska Medical Center, from injuries he sustained in a fall at his Sand Lake home during the Southcentral windstorm disaster March 9. He was 57.
A solo attorney in Anchorage, Lamb came to Alaska in 1972, after earning a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Wisconsin and a juris doctorate that year. He was born in Patterson, NJ, grew up in Wisconsin, and earned his Eagle Scout award from the Boy Scouts at age 13.
Known as Kenn to his friends, Lamb was active in community service in the West Side Community Patrol since 1997 and as a member of Anchorage’s Community Emergency Response Team. He also was a member of the Sand Lake Community Council, advocating for sensible development and wildlife habitat preservation. He enjoyed bird-watching, camping, canoeing, fishing, gardening, and photography and had a keen interest in classical music and old Hollywood musicals.
He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Susan and daughter Stephanie, of Anchorage; his son, Jeffrey who is attending college in Portland, OR; father Daniel, of Brookfield, WI; sister Dorothy Horton of Denton, TX; and his father- and mother-in-law, Bill and Cecile Dubois, of Anchorage.
In lieu of flowers, Kenn Lamb’s family suggests memorial contributions to the Boy Scouts of America, 3117 Patterson St., Anchorage 99504; or to the Anchorage Police Department Dollars for Dogs program, PO Box 202042, Anchorage 99520. As he requested, Lamb’s ashes were scattered over Lower Cook Inlet over the summer.
IN MEMORIAM 2002
’Snow Tiger’was part of Alaska history:
Edgar Paul Boyko
Edgar Paul Boyko is one of those Alaska attorneys who will be remembered as a legend of the bar. His death in Washington State on New Year’s Day 2002 left behind friends, foes, and family who will not soon forget their encounters with the Anchorage attorney who left his mark since Territorial days.
Boyko died in Des Moines, WA after several years of ill health. He’d left Alaska courts, politics and the law in 1999 following a series of strokes. He was 83.
As many in his generation, Boyko didn’t come up the easy way. He was born in Vienna on Oct. 19, 1918. An only child, Boyko’s father was an eye doctor, and his mother was an opera singer, who he called ’a dramatic soprano’ in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News in 1995. ’I was a spoiled brat,’ he commented. Nevertheless, his family endured two world wars; Boyko and his Jewish wife-to-be fled the Nazis in 1938 while at the University of Vienna, and landed in Scotland. There, he finished school at St. Andrews University with a degree in chemistry, and the young couple emigrated to New York in 1940 with $100 in their pockets.
The Depression found Boyko working whatever jobs he could find, selling hot dogs at baseball games, working at a rubber-manufacturing plant, cleaning up labs at Johns Hopkins University, and delivering chemicals for a match company. It was as close to using his education in chemistry as he’d ever come.
By 1945, Boyko had graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in law, and remembers one of his first cases in Baltimore as one that nearly drove him out of the profession. He was defending a man charged with robbery and murder, who faced the death penalty if convicted. He won the case, but has said he didn’t much like having someone’s life in his hands. ’If I had lost that case, I would have hung it up,’ he said in the 1995 interview.
Boyko came into the Alaska Territory in 1953, as a solicitor for the federal Bureau of Land Management. A year later, he was in private practice, and was appointed Alaska attorney general during Walter J. Hickel’s first administration in 1967-68. During his tenure as the state’s top lawyer, it was Boyko who initiated a statewide task force that would lead to the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. He suggested that such a group, represented by Willie Hensley, Emil Notti, John Borbridge Jr., Alice Brown, Richard Frank, Charles Franz, Byron Mallott, Hugh Nicholls, Harvey Samuelsen and Don Wright, would help the state and Alaska Natives find common ground. The Governor’s Task Force on Native Land Claims unveiled its proposal for settling Native claims at an historic hearing of the U.S. Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs in Anchorage in 1968, three years before the passage of ANCSA in December of 1971.
Never entirely divorced from politics, Boyko built an active law practice, in a style all his own. He often said that a trial should be a performance for the jury, and his flair and flamboyance in the courtroom never left him. He was quick to use every advantage, from impeccable, pin-striped attire to working with consultants who used such esoteric ’science’ as body-mapping, astrology, and paranormal phenomena to screen juries. He used his failing eyesight to his theatric yet scholarly advantage, as he did his walking cane for dramatic punctuation in his elder years in the courtroom. Humor, however, was not one of his preferred tactics. ’A laughing jury never convicts,’ he’s said.
Anchorage attorney Wayne Anthony Ross first met Boyko in the courtroom more than two decades ago. ’It was my first trial as a bright, young assistant A.G., one month out of law school," Ross remembers. Outraged by an adoption approved by the state under fraudulent circumstances (’a doctor with his 18-year-old mistress in who represented themselves as married to adopt the child,’ Ross says), the young Ross entered the courtroom determined to set aside the adoption for the State of Alaska. And there was Boyko on the other side of the aisle. ’He objected. He argued the best interest of the child.’ He looked so distinguished. He won the case,’ says Ross. ’By the time it was over, I felt 2 inches tall and was thoroughly convinced I didn’t learn a thing in law school.’ It was the start of a long friendship.
’You could never intimidate Ed,’ said former Gov. Wally Hickel after Boyko’s death. ’I don’t care if you were a judge, a jury, or what. He said what he believed.’
Nor did he keep his opinions and advocacy in the courtroom. During the 1970s and 80s, he wrote an outspoken column of political and commentary in the former All Alaska Weekly newspaper in Fairbanks, dubbed ’The Roar of the Snow Tiger.’ A long-time Democrat, that party’s ideology didn’t prevent him from supporting Republican candidates (like his old friend Hickel). And he joined the Alaskan Independence Party (AIP) in 1990, helping engineer one of the more bizarre gubernatorial elections, even by Alaska standards. When the Republicans chose a woman (Arliss Sturgulewski) during the primary election, the AIP found itself with candidates who had little name identification and little prospect of prevailing in November. They resigned, with Hickel and Jack Coghill replacing them on the ticket, winning the election by a whisker.
Boyko described himself as an ’eclectic libertarian (with a small ël’)’ in 1995, and in 1998 chaired a political group advocating for a ballot proposition requiring the state to use English-only language in its documents and dealings. Ballot Measure 6 was one of the more controversial propositions in the general election. ’A common language is common sense,’ Boyko wrote in support of the measure in the election pamphlet that year. ’As our state population is becoming more diverse, this bill will help keep Alaskans unified by a common language. Second, in the Alaska tradition of limited government, this bill will prevent the increased bureaucracy and costs due to offering documents and services in multiple languages.
’Opponents will try to scare you with misrepresentations and lies about what this bill does (but) you will see that it is a limit only on the government. Private citizens will still be able to use any language they want, anywhere, at any time. The bill also has commonsense exceptions for things like public health and safety, police work, international trade, and the teaching of foreign languages,’ he wrote, adding, however, that it would preserve Native languages.
’There are 105 languages spoken in Alaska homes. Our diversity can be a strength, but only if we have one common language so everyone can talk to everyone else. Learning English empowers people to get better jobs and to integrate into Alaskan society. Mastery of English helps immigrants increase their incomes by 30 percent. We need to help people learn English, not discourage them,’ he said, adding for good measure that ’by making English the official language, we make sure that Alaska will not end up like California, where they offer driver’s license exams in 33 languages. Other states may offer routine documents and services in dozens of languages, but that does not make sense for Alaska.’
Earlier that year, Boyko was given a special recognition career award by the Western Society of Criminology, the only individual to receive such recognition since the organization was formed in 1974.
The 1998 election was to be one of Boyko’s last causes in law and politics. He’d been slowing down, even while recovering a law firm bankruptcy earlier in the decade after a firm partner embezzled funds. Money, though, was never what motivated him, said his old friend Ross. ’He’d always take a case, no matter how poor the client was, if he liked the issue.’
Boyko’s last social event with the bar was in 1999, when he attended the annual Territorial Lawyers Picnic at the home of Roger Cremo in July. His colleagues from the old days knew the Snow Tiger was ailing, and awaited his arrival to mingle with others who have shared the Alaska’s rich history over the decades. Soon after the convivial gathering, Boyko left for Seattle to be closer to specialized medical treatment and family. He was working on a book, but time ran out before its completion, said Ross, who talked with Boyko 10 days before he died. ’The mind and spirit were sharp, but his flesh was weak,’ said Ross. ’We’ve lost one of our most colorful lawyers.’
Mitch Schapira, a Boyko friend of 26 years, said of his mentor, ’A great Alaskan is now gone. Those who knew him are enriched by the fact that he walked among us.’ As for Boyko, he told the Daily News in 1995 that he hoped to be remembered ’as the guy who usually represented the underdog.’
He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Georgie Lee; 3 children, Colene Merbs, Georgena Newman, and David; seven grandchildren; and a great-grandson born Dec. 28. His son Steven was killed in a military accident in 1983.
-- Sally J. Suddock
Clifford H. Smith
Clifford H. Smith of Ketchikan, age 59, died suddenly and unexpectedly on January 17th at Swedish Hospital in Seattle.
Clifford was born in October of 1942 in Cathlamet, Washington and was raised on a dairy farm in Skamokawa. His father was the local Justice of the Peace. Clifford attended high school in Cathlamet, where he was an FFA standout and lettered in football and basketball for the Cathlamet Mules. He graduated from Western Washington University and Willamette School of Law in Salem, Oregon.
He then moved to Juneau where he joined the local police force while studying for the bar exam. He took and passed the exam in 1968, and then joined the law firm of Ziegler, Ziegler & Cloudy in Ketchikan. He was with that firm, which subsequently became Ziegler, Cloudy, Smith, King and Brown until 1982, when he opened his own office in Ketchikan. He practiced continuously in Ketchikan until his death.
As the secretary/treasurer of the Ketchikan Bar Association (KBA) for many years, he in all that time maintained the tradition of never giving a formal accounting of the treasury to the members (something we were thankful for). He was always available to answer legal and ethical questions for his colleagues, and to explain the arcane workings of the German lottery, point spreads, and handicapping horse races. Clifford enjoyed halibut and salmon fishing and never missed the Ketchikan Bar’s annual fishing weekend to places such as Whales Resort, Waterfall Resort, Yes Bay and Bell Island. He also played golf, cribbage and poker with enthusiasm.
Clifford is survived by his wife, Sally, of Port Ludlow, Washington; two sons, Brantley of Portland and Ethan in Woodinville; two daughters, Laura Lawrence of Olympia and Elise Kertulla of Poulsbo; along with two grandchildren, Alexandar Lawrence and Natalie Smith. He is also survived by his sister Joyce King of Salem and brother Jack Smith of Naselle, Washington.
Funeral services were held in Skamokawa and Clifford was buried in Fern Hill Cemetery there, overlooking the old family farm. A memorial gathering was also held in Ketchikan sponsored by the KBA.
Clifford served his profession well. He practiced law for over 30 years. Several years ago he received a letter from the Alaska Bar Association which started by saying, "Enclosed is your 30 year pin," although in fact there was no enclosure. His staunch support of the fraternity and sorority of KBA members will long be remembered, along with his sense of humor and dedication to the profession. KBA members say good-bye dear friend. We shall long remember you.
A celebration of life in honor of Christy Gibbs will be held at 5 p.m. on July 19, 2002 at the Millenium Hotel in Anchorage. Admitted to the bar in June, 1999, she passed away Saturday, May 18 as she was enroute to Anchorage by medivac. Burial was by cremation and her ashes will be spread at her beloved Girdwood.
Christy requested donations to Friends of Pets, S.P.C.A., the Alaska Humane Society or the Alaska Wildlife Alliance in lieu of flowers.
Please come and celebrate her wonderful life with educational and legal friends and relatives July 19. Please RSVP (the caterer needs to know) by phone, 522-1312; fax, 522-0138; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org, or drop a line to her husband Ron West at 3220 Racquet Circle, Anchorage 99507.
IN MEMORIAM 2001
Supreme Court Justice Jay Rabinowitz
Jay Rabinowitz died in a Seattle hospital from the complications of leukemia on June 16, 2001, at age 74. His wife Anne, and his children Judy, Mara, Sarah, and Max, were with him at the time.
He was the greatest legal personage in the history of Alaska--in length of public service, in the significance of that service, and in the quality of that service.
Jay was born February 25, 1927 in Philadelphia, and grew up in Brooklyn. Following World War II service in the Army Air Corps, he received a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University in 1949, and an LL.B. from Harvard University Law School in 1952. He was admitted to the bar of New York in that same year, and practiced law in New York City for five years before venturing to Alaska to clerk for a U.S. District Court judge in Fairbanks, arriving on a beautiful, minus-50-degree day. He settled in Fairbanks, where he met and married Anne Nesbit in 1957.
Following his service as assistant U.S. attorney for Alaska, and as the Alaska deputy attorney general, Rabinowitz was appointed to the superior court in Fairbanks by Governor Bill Egan in 1960. Five years later, Governor Egan elevated him to the state supreme court, where he served for the next 32 years. Under constitutional mandate, he retired in 1997, at age 70, but he continued to serve as pro tem judge on the Court for the next four years. He was especially active as settlement judge during this period. In addition, he co-taught a constitutional law class, working right up to a couple of months before his death. (Read Jay Rabinowitz’s legacy of law and justice)
ALSC Executive Director Robert Hickerson
The Alaska legal community joined