Myrna Maynard, Ms. Republican - Must Read Alaska
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Myrna Maynard, Ms. Republican

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Myrna Maynard, who was known in political circles as Ms. Republican, died on April 18, 2019, at age 84.

She was born in South Africa and was married to Kenneth Maynard for 63 years. Myrna was a volunteer on campaigns for Sen. Ted Stevens, Congressman Don Young, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and Sen. Dan Sullivan, and was the treasurer and campaign coach for numerous other candidates.

“One thing I’m sure of: She will sit on my shoulder forever to guide and chastise,” said Drue Pearce, former Alaska Senate President.

Former Mayor Dan Sullivan shared, “You could tell if Myrna liked you because you would then be subject to her rapier wit and sarcasm. If she didn’t like you, well, she just wouldn’t have anything to do with you. She was fond of telling me that I was a really good mayor but my dad was better – probably the only thing we didn’t ‘argue’ about. Most of us in life try and be a twinkle, Myrna was a comet!”

Myrna went to the hospital for scheduled heart surgery, but suffered from complications and was in intensive care for several weeks. When her passing was thought to be imminent, her longtime friend Congressman Don Young rushed to her side at Providence Alaska Medical Center, but arrived moments after she passed. Yet he stayed with her for a long time to say his goodbyes.

For the political world, Myrna was a force of nature — funny, acerbic, smart, and hardworking. You could count on Myrna Maynard’s quick wit and droll sense of humor. She was a fixture at Republican conventions, Central Committee meetings and fundraisers, and she was always pulling out her checkbook to support conservative candidates.

Asked once by a friend why she kept at it and never gave up on Republicans, she answered that she could not “turn off the ‘care’ button.” At State Central Committee meetings, before things would go off the rails, as if on cue, Myrna’s voice would boom out, “Move to table!”

During the Senate campaign for now Sen. Dan Sullivan, in spite of having suffered a head injury she kept an ice pack on her head while entering the thousands of donations into the computer for the FEC report, as her husband Kenneth would read aloud the information from the checks.

She worked as a legislative aide for Senate President Drue Pearce and Speaker of the House Rep. Gail Phillips. She was often noted as “spotted” at an event, by the longtime political gossip column of Sheila Toomey, The Alaska Ear, and later in the Loose Lips feature of the political website.

Loyalty was one of her most valued virtues. She supported Sen. Stevens to the end, and did not hold charitable thoughts toward those who abandoned him when he was under Department of Justice’s investigation, an investigation later found to be a political witch hunt. She visited his grave at Arlington National Cemetery after he died in 2010.

Her last public appearance was at the unveiling of the Ted Stevens statue at the Ted Stevens International Airport on Feb. 26.

In 2016, the Alaska Republican Party held a party in her honor, and dubbed her the Patron Saint of All Things APOC and FEC: She was awarded a halo and wings for all her efforts keeping candidates out of hot water. Those present recall that Congressman Young got down on one knee and held her hand, and thanked her for all she had done for him.

Myrna was a wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Must Read Alaska has linked her official obituary here.

A memorial is planned for Friday, April 26, 5-7 pm at the Petroleum Club in Anchorage. Readers may add their memories of Myrna in the comments section below.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • I personally didn’t know Myrna, but read a lot about her over the years. Deepest condolences to her friends and family. Rest easy Myrna.

  • Thank you for this wonderful tribute to Mom. She was definitely one of a kind. You never had to guess where she stood. She would tell you. And she was never cowed by someone’s status. If she thought they had done something not that bright, she would tell them in no uncertain terms. Most took it in the vein it was given – to make them a better representative. Others, not so much. Mom loved to relate a story about Drue telling people that Mom did not work “for” Drue, but “with” Drue.

    She worked on Don’s campaign for 16 years and the two of them loved giving as much as they got when it came to verbal banter. Mom knew that Don planned to say things to get her goat and she was always ready for him with her quick wit. She didn’t work “for” him, either.

    Many may not realize that she loved sports. Her brothers grew up playing soccer (football to them) and cricket, among others. She loved watching games. She loved to watch football and baseball. When we got here from South Africa, we didn’t know either sport or any of the teams. But every World Series and Super Bowl (once they started) she would pick a team to root for. She mostly supported the Red Sox and Redskins after a while. But she would pick a team when neither of those two were playing. She definitely let politics get into her team selection. It would never be a team from California (too liberal). More recently, no Seattle teams either (got tired of their politicians thinking they should decide Alaska’a future).

    She did a lot for this town (and State) that she hated for the first three years we were here (Anchorage in 1960 was not nearly as cosmopolitan as Johannesburg and she couldn’t play tennis outdoors three times a week, either). But she quickly grew to love it and it would have taken dynamite to get her out of here. Alaska gave her a good life and she gave back in kind. She will be missed.

    • Very beautiful Colin…she will be missed..

      • Thank you, Carolyn. She enjoyed having you and your Mom over for holidays.

    • Colin, so nice to see the words and memories of a mother from a son. God bless you and your family.

      • Thank you, Garnet. She trained me well. 😀

    • My condolences, Colin. What a wonderful women, a beautiful life, and amazing stories! A life well lived. She did great things for this city, State, and world. ❤️

  • This was a really nice tribute to Myrna. She was a truly wonderful and fun person to be around and the voice of reason when campaigns got into the hectic home stretch. She was the first person you saw when you went into Congressman Young’s campaign HQ and the Gatekeeper for his campaigns. I always enjoyed catching up on the political insights she offered. God Bless Myrna.

  • Thank, you, Mr. Martin. She would get a chuckle out of your claim about her being “the greatest among the Real Conservatives.” She was not considered that by many on the far right of the Republican party. Which didn’t bother her in the least. She loved poking them and initiating the tabling of their motions. All for the good of the party.

  • Colin, I am truly sorry to learn of your Mom’s passing, she was a great Lady and Alaska was very fortunately to have her being so willingly to be involved in Alaska’s political arena. I first meet her when she work with Drue and Gail and she taught me the first thing to do was get to know the Staff if I wanted to have a Bill move though the committees. Also I always enjoyed having a glass of wine with her, Ronda and friends at Corsair and talking politics. She will be solely missed. Bernie Smith

  • Touching tribute, Suzanne. I last saw Myrna at the Ted Stevens statue unveiling and walked away marveling at what a giant she was to Alaskans in politics and politicos alike. To her humor, that look, the fear she gave us, and mostly her hard earned tender kindness. I toast to Myrna! Digging in the recipe box for a Myrna treasure….

  • I was fortunate to have Myrna drop into my office at the Don Young campaign office in February. I managed to find out her health circumstances after she told me “life is interesting“. When she says something like that I know there’s more to it. . I feel fortunate for that last conversation with her.

  • Myrna was a special member of our Republican team. No one was more dedicated or contributed more over the years. I especially enjoyed being with her at a conference in LasVegas where I showed her how to play a slot machine! She left with $30 in nickels!
    We will miss you, Myrna. My special thoughts and prayers are with Ken and the family.

  • Myrna hired me to work at Maynard & Partch in the early 80’s. Hands down she was a dream office manager, a generous how-to guide, and set the tone of community care & support. With all of her interests and duties, that she could find time to show genuine interest in my family was exceptional. Even after I left Alaska for a farming adventure in the WV hills, truly far off the beaten path, — even there she & Ken criss-crossed the hollow roads & streams to see what on earth I was up to. Again, she was positive & interested in everything. When I’d make an annual trek to Anchorage in the past decades Myrna & Ken always, always, made time to catch up with me. My oh my, Myrna Maynard’s friendship enriched & enlivened my life.

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