Dan Fauske: The ‘passing of Superman’

Dan Fauske

Dan Fauske, who led the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation and the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation until his retirement in 2015, died this morning in Anchorage after a battle with cancer.

Former House Speaker Mike Chenault rose on the House Floor today to announce his passing. In a voice that was breaking, he announced Fauske’s passing:

“Mr. Speaker there are not many places across the state where Mr. Fauske is not thought of in a higher light. He was a great statesman and a great family man…my prayers and condolences to Elaine and the entire Fauske family.”

“Dan Fauske leaped tall buildings in a single bound. Like Superman, there was not a challenge he couldn’t take on. He grew the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation into what it is today after it was on the brink of closure,” Chenault said in a statement issued this afternoon. “He was a great Alaskan but more importantly a good man and friend.”

House Bill 143, naming the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation Building in Anchorage after Fauske, passed the Legislature last week.  Governor Bill Walker will sign the bill into law on April 8 at 11 am in AHFC’s boardroom, 4300 Boniface Parkway.

Senator Pete Kelly issued this statement “Dan Fauske was one of the most competent men I ever met. His work with the Legislature on behalf of the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation and the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation brought immeasurable value to Alaskans.

“We loved his sense of humor, his reliance on relationships, and his ability to tell stories.”

Must Read Alaska editor Suzanne Downing remembered Dan Fauske as knowledgeable, helpful, and good natured. “Over the years I could always count on him to give the facts to me straight. He was a subject expert on so many things related to Alaska, and he knew how to keep things in perspective. He never overreached on a topic, but kept a steady, grown-up view of every situation. I will miss his counsel.”

Former Gov. Sean Parnell issued this statement this afternoon: “Sandy and I were deeply saddened to learn of Dan Fauske’s passing. We knew Dan to be a thoughtful, smart public servant as he led both AHFC and the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. We will miss his smile and wit–that spark of humanity that made Dan very special. Our thoughts and prayers are with Elaine and the Fauske family and the many friends who, like us, count Dan a special friend.”

Fauske served as the Chief Executive Officer of Alaska Housing Finance Corporation from 1995 to August 2013, and before that was chief financial officer, chief administrative officer and budget director of the North Slope Borough, in Barrow. He was a director at National Community Renaissance of California and a director of National Housing Development Corporation. 

Fauske earned his masters degree in business administration from Gonzaga University. Fauske’s survivors include his wife Elaine, and adult children, D.J., Scott, Brad, Kathy and Marcie.

D.J. Fauske offered sentiments on behalf of the Fauske family through the Office of the Governor: “Dan lost the battle but not the war. We are grateful for the many friends and professional colleagues who have prayed for, and connected with my dad and our entire family since learning of his diagnosis.”

“I have known Dan for a long time. I had the privilege to be a part of his work for eight years as an AHFC employee and three more years as a member of the board. He built AHFC with heart, intellect, and a can-do attitude,” said AHFC President Bryan Butcher. “Dan was a force of nature, a mentor to many of us, and a dear friend. He will be immeasurably missed.”

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan spoke about Fauske on the floor of the Senate this evening:

Mr. President, for months I’ve been coming down to the floor each week to recognize someone in my state who has made a difference—someone who has devoted time and energy to making my state a better place to live for others. 

I call these individuals our Alaskan of the Week.

As I’ve said repeatedly, my state is the most beautiful state in the country—I’d argue in the world. I urge everybody here in this room, and watching on television, to come and see it for yourself. It’ll be a trip of a lifetime. Guaranteed. 

But it’s the people that truly make my state unique. People who are helping each other. Strong willed, warm hearted, tenacious people who have worked tirelessly for all of us who live there. 

Mr. President, this week I’d like to honor Dan Fauske, one of the strongest willed, warmest hearted people I have ever known. All he’s done for us has made Alaska a better place for all of us. 

Dan came to Alaska in 1974 after serving in the Army, like so many Alaskans. And like so many Alaskans, he arrived with the glint of steel in his eye and a mission to help build our state. Alaska is full of natural wonders, but our man-made wonders are also marvels. And Dan wanted to be part of building more of those marvels.

He first arrived in the North Slope Borough to help the community build up their infrastructure and strengthen the villages in the area.

It was a time of enormous change for all of Alaska, and particularly the North Slope. Oil from the North Slope’s Prudhoe Bay, the largest oil field in North America, had recently begun to flow. The largest lands claim Act in history, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, had recently passed, and the governments of villages in rural Alaska were being formed and reformed.

After Dan went back to school to receive a master’s degree in business administration from Gonzaga, he made his way back to Alaska to serve as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer for Alaska’s North Slope Borough, where he launched an ambitious and ultimately successful capital plan to provide running water and sewer services to the villages throughout the Borough.

According to Bill Tracey, Sr. from Point Lay, who was a co-worker at the time, “Dan’s excellent work ethic and skills earned him the respect of the North Slope leaders… His accomplishments were remarkable.” 

With his beautiful and spirited wife Elaine always by his side, Dan then moved his family to Anchorage to head up the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. For 18 years, Dan managed AHFC’s nearly $5 billion in assets. It’s not an overstatement to say that he revolutionized that agency, doing remarkable things—including, and most importantly, helping thousands and thousands of Alaskans pursue their dream of buying an affordable home. 

The Alaska Legislature just passed a bill to name the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation the Daniel R. Fauske Building. There will be a dedication ceremony in Anchorage this Saturday

As his bio indicates, there is no doubt that for decades, Dan served Alaska with his hands, his heart, and his head.

But a bio, on paper, can only tell you so much about a person.

To really appreciate him, you have to have been with him and watched the energy and can-do spirit radiate off of Dan. You had to have watched him talk to people: with respect, with humor, understanding and keen intelligence. 

He had 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, veteran, and a public servant. He spoke the language of a father, a husband, a friend, and a true Alaskan.

In so doing, 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.

Most importantly, Dan was a great father to three great boys: DJ, Scott, and Brad, and two daughters, Marcy and Kathy. And he was a great husband to his incredible, vivacious and very strong wife Elaine. 

Mr. President, Dan passed away this afternoon, with his family and friends by his side. Our prayers, and the prayers of so many Alaskans, go out to all of them during this difficult time. For anyone watching, I humbly ask that they say a prayer too.

For all he’s done for all of us—and all his memory will continue to do for us–Dan Fauske is our Alaskan of the Week. He was also my very good friend. And my wife Julie and I will miss him greatly. 

Earlier this session, legislators unanimously passed HB 143, naming the AHFC Anchorage headquarters the Daniel R. Fauske Building. Arrangements for a summer celebration of life are pending, and details will be made available by the family at a later date.