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OPINION: Telling the story of one of Alaska's greats is a personal thrill for us

December 21st, 2012 | Jason Evans Print this article   Email this article  

Every once in a while, someone comes along that just makes the world a better place to live, work and be in. I'm sure you know people like that.

Maybe it was your mother, dad, sibling or best friend. Maybe it was someone you met at church or at a game.

Maybe it was someone you stood behind in the aisle at the grocery store.

We, as Alaskans, lost one of those special souls earlier this year when Al Adams passed away after a lengthy illness. For almost two decades, Al was the voice of the Northwest Arctic as he served in the state House of Representatives and the State Senate.

I know as a state official, Adams received plenty of credit, and deservedly so. He served in the state House and Senate from 1981 through 2000. He was a longtime Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, a position that gave him great power and influence. Without a doubt, Al was a great leader who worked hard for the betterment of Alaska.

For me, however, the loss of Adams was a personal blow. You see, Al was a friend of mine. To me, he was also a down-to-earth friend who never failed to welcome someone new to the large community of Anchorage. As my neighbor, living just a few houses away, he gave Anchorage a hometown feel. Always waving as I drove by for work and smiling when I drove home at night.

I have to be honest, the idea of honoring my friend with a special section wasn't mine alone. The idea sprang from the work of John and Susan Creed. They wrote a 4,000-word set of stories about Al and approached us to see if we would be interested in publishing it in the Arctic Sounder.

I personally contacted a few organizations here in the region and pitched the idea of creating a publication to honor one of the most influential men in rural Alaska. There was overwhelming support for the project.

To me, Al wasn't so much the politician as he was the friendly neighbor. I remember him always being outside shoveling the snow in his driveway. There were several times my driveway was overrun with snow that I had not gotten to, wishing I had some fancy snow blower or something, and Al was in his driveway with only a shovel clearing his like a professional. Many times his driveway was the cleanest one in the neighborhood, guilting me into doing mine. That's the kind of man Al was ... he got things done without ever telling you it needed to be done. It is why he left this world a better place for his having been here.

I hope this section conveys the respect and love that so many Alaskans in every remote village in the state had for Al. I want to thank everyone who helped with this issue. With everyone's help, the story of one of our great Alaskans will be published and available for people to read for years.

It isn't often you can help tell the story of a great man and a friend.


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