A “going away party” for Dan Fauske, who died April 5, 2017 at age 66, ended with shots of Irish whiskey being passed around a crowded room, and a toast given by his widow Elaine. It seemed an appropriate way to close out the life of an Alaskan who was considered a great statesman, even though he never held elected office.
More than 300 people attended the celebration of Fauske’s life at the Williwaw nightclub and event venue in downtown Anchorage. Many in the standing-room-only crowd were leaders from around the state, including Senior U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Gov. and Donna Walker, former Gov. and Sandy Parnell, and a dozen legislators, such as Sen. Kevin Meyer, Rep. Lance Pruitt, Rep. Chris Birch, former Rep. Craig Johnson, former Rep. Mike Hawker, former Rep. Ben Nageak, and former Sen. Bill Stoltze.
Also attending were Reps. Mike Chenault, Jennifer Johnston, Gabrielle LeDoux, former Reps. Kurt Olson, Lynn Gattis, Gene Therriault, Lindsey Holmes, and former Sen. Lesil McGuire.
Julie Fate Sullivan represented U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, who is in D.C. Former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan arrived early, as did his former Chief of Staff Larry Baker, while current Mayor Ethan Berkowitz was not seen. But in general, it was a mix of political viewpoints that filled the room, a testament to how highly Fauske was regarded by people from all parts of the political spectrum.
Bryan Butcher, current CEO of Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, commented that Fauske would have loved to have seen the crowd that had gathered, as there were so many of his friends.
Attended by about 250 Alaskans, the night was emceed by radio personality Dave Stieren, with additional remarks by Dan’s son D.J., and several others. A eulogy given on the floor of the U.S. Senate by Sen. Sullivan was played on a large screen.
Fauske was born in Fargo, ND and served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. He met Elaine upon his return and they married and moved to Barrow, where Dan worked in construction. After earning his master’s degree, he was chief financial officer and chief administrative officer for the North Slope Borough. He moved his family to Anchorage and became the CEO and executive director of Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, and later the president of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation under Gov. Parnell. He was not retained by Gov. Walker, who wanted to move the gasline in a different direction.
On the day of his passing, Sen. Dan Sullivan remarked on the Senate floor: “Dan has a big laugh and told great stories. He also had that rare ability to genuinely connect with everybody he met, and was able to speak the language of a businessman, a builder, a veteran, and a public servant. He spoke the language of a father, a husband, a friend, and a true Alaskan. In doing so, he gained the respect of politicians, state workers, military members — people from all across Alaska. If you wanted something done and done right, you asked Dan Fauske to help do it. People trusted Dan Fauske. I trusted Dan Fauske.”