DIED AFTER MAJOR STROKE
Bob Gillam, who was raised in the back of his father’s liquor store but became one of the most successful businessmen in Alaska history, has died.He was 72.
He suffered from a type of brain aneurysm and was taken to the hospital on Monday midday, where he was on life support. Family was flying in from around the country. Few details are known at this time.
Gillam founded McKinley Capital Management in 1990. He headquartered the investment firm in Anchorage, an unusual location for firms of his type, four hours off of the New York Stock Exchange’s time zone. But he grew the company with an western-facing approach to look at markets across the Pacific. And it gave him access to fishing and the state that he grew up in and loved. He was an avid pilot and owned several planes.
Born in Fairbanks and raised in Anchorage, he was influential enough in Alaska politics that every major candidate for governor this year had met with him during the past 14 months.
He even considered running for governor himself because he felt his financial skills were a unique match for the dire financial situation that Alaska found itself in during the past four years. In January, he decided against it for health reasons.
After Donald Trump became president, Gillam was considered by the Trump Administration for a cabinet-level appointment leading the Department of Interior.
A graduate from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a classmate of Trump’s, he earned a master’s degree in business administration from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.
Gillam owned a lodge at Lake Clark. He was one of the most vocal and well-heeled opponents to the Pebble Project, a proposed mine for the region, and he spent as much as $30 million running advocacy campaigns against the development of the gold and copper mine.
A side of him not well known was how much he helped young college students by giving them scholarships. He was exceedingly generous, but did not broadcast it. Just last week, at an event in Anchorage, he was approached by a young woman who thanked him for the scholarship he had given her. Gillam was heard to remark that he had never actually met her up until that moment, but was pleased to know he had been able to help someone achieve their dreams.
His company manages some $7 billion in investments, many of them on behalf of public pension funds around the United States. His son, Robert Gillam, is the company’s chief investment officer and senior Vice President.