Edie M. Opinsky, longtime aide to Sen. Stevens, passes


Lifelong Alaskan Edie Opinsky, died unexpectedly on October 18, 2019 in her winter-season home in Sun Lakes, Arizona.  She was 76.

Born on Sept. 15, 1943 in Anchorage to Willard and Irene Jordet, Edie was a graduate of the first class at West Anchorage High School in 1962, and later attended college at Pacific Lutheran University.

In 1963, Edie met Robert Opinsky, whom she married in 1965. During their 48 years of marriage, they raised three children, Bill, John, and Celine.

Edie went to work in 1971 as a clerk for the young U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, which turned into a lifelong friendship and career as his campaign manager and U.S. Senate staffer for 34 years.

She was a founding member of the Ann Stevens Memorial Fund and a board member of the Ted Stevens Foundation. She was most comfortable organizing behind the scenes and coordinated the Steven’s Ladies Luncheon and hundreds of other events over many decades.

Edie loved politics and worked on several campaigns, attended state and national conventions and met numerous dignitaries including U.S. Presidents, Vice Presidents, and high-powered members of Congress along the way. Edie was named Alaska Republican Woman of the Year in 1996.

“She was pretty fearless,” recalled Edie’s daughter Celine Kaplan. “I saw her in lots of situations with powerful people, and she was not easily intimidated. But she was not at all a cutthroat political player. She ran grassroots campaigns built on lists of people all over the state, and she counted on her contacts to host events and greet the senator when he came into town. My friends and I were recruited to stuff envelopes, show up in campaign commercials, and throw candy at parades.”

“One of my earliest memories was when we were putting 1972 stickers over the 1968 bags that they hand out at the state fair,” said her son John Jordet. “It was a family affair, with all of us working on the campaign. She was part of a crew of inner-circle ladies that looked out for him, and vice versa. He trusted her advice.”

Edie worked on five of Stevens’ campaigns over 34 years and was 5-0 when she retired to be a more involved grandmother.

Edie’s greatest joy was her family and she dedicated any free time toward volunteering for her kids’ schools and sports teams. She was also known for cooking amazing meals and Christmas cookies for her family and friends, many of which were from Norwegian recipes passed down from her mother.

She is survived by her son Bill and granddaughter Alex, son John (Cathy) and grandsons Jack, Jimmy & Nicko; and daughter Celine Kaplan (Greg) and grandchildren Sam & Meredith, all of Anchorage. She is also survived by sister Bonnie King (David) and family, and brother John Jordet (Mardelle) and family. She was preceded in death by her husband Bob, and parents Willard & Irene Jordet.

A celebration of life is planned for Sunday, Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. at Flattop, located at 600 W. 6th Ave. in Anchorage.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made in Edie’s name to Providence Alaska Foundation.