Former Governor of Alaska, Jay Hammond, died at age 83, peacefully at his home in Lake Clark, Alaska. He served Alaska as its Governor from 1974 to 1982, the years during which Alaska built an incredible oil pipeline, banked a large amount of the oil lease revenues, and created a dividend program that every resident of Alaska benefits from yearly.
Very few men are ever fortunate enough to be so productive during their public life. Not surprisingly, Jay Hammond was respected and admired by a huge population. He was the “quintessential Alaskan,” as state senator Fred Dyson put it.
Jay Hammond came to Alaska following his service as a Marine fighter pilot during World War II. He bought an amphibious plane and worked as a bush pilot and trapper. Later he worked for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. He developed a keen eye for protecting and preserving the environment. Even as a developer of Alaska’s natural resources, Hammond ensured that development did not proceed at the expense of environmental protection.
Hammond was elected to the state legislature in 1959 and served several terms. He then became mayor of the Bristol Bay Borough and served as a state senator. In 1974 he was elected Governor for the first of two terms.
During his tenure as Governor, Hammond oversaw the building and the opening of the Alaska Pipeline, the oil pipeline that runs from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. He preserved a large portion of the oil lease revenues in the form of a Permanent Fund. The Fund has been in existence now for over 25 years, a form of saving account for the state.
The Permanent Fund might have been spent any number of times, but Hammond inspired the State to create a Dividend program to provide incentive for keeping the Fund intact. The Dividend program provides a yearly payment to every resident of Alaska. The Permanent Fund is like a large pension fund that every Alaskan is proud of and benefits from. Thanks to Jay Hammond, the Fund enjoys protection and will remain in place for many years to come.
Jay Hammond and his wife, Bella, lived for the past many years at Lake Clark where they homesteaded originally 50 years ago. Lake Clark is an awesome and gorgeous large lake in the Aleutian chain of mountains not too far from Anchorage via float plane. Remember, it was the adventure of being a float plane pilot that brought Hammond to Alaska originally.
Hammond was a humble man and displayed a warm sense of humor. Once, during a re-election debate in 1978, he was asked if he believed he was the best choice to be Governor. Hammond replied, “No, there are plenty of other Alaskans who can do a much better job than I could. Unfortunately, none of them are running.”
The consensus was that Jay Hammond was the best man for the job, and he will be remembered that way.
Garry Gamber is a public school teacher. He writes articles about politics, real estate, health and nutrition, and internet dating services. He is a founding member of http://www.GoodPoliticsRadio.com and the owner of http://www.TheDatingAdvisor.com.