Art Chance, 74, who wrote opinion, theater reviews, and political analysis for Must Read Alaska for many years, passed peacefully in his sleep on Oct. 17, 2023.
He was this publication’s first senior contributor and wrote regularly until about a month ago. “The circle has now been broken,” was the last sentence he ever wrote, said his wife Juno, describing how he started to write what would have been his last column for Must Read Alaska. It’s a column he never finished.
If he could have finished it, he might have ended with “Whiskey for my men and beer for my horses,” one of his favorite sayings, from the lyrics of Toby Keith.
He was the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon.com.
Born in 1949 in rural Georgia, he headed to Alaska during the Pipeline era in 1974, and got a job with the State of Alaska in 1987. He lived in Juneau for several years, before returning to Anchorage, where he lived in the Oceanview neighborhood.
“I went through the oil price crash and the Democrats’ ‘all bets are off’ period, Governor Hickel’s ‘owner state,’ Tony Knowles’ best government Greenies and Unions could buy, a stint working for the Republican-controlled legislature when I couldn’t stand the Knowles people any more, and finally became Governor Murkowski’s director of labor relations, from which I retired on July 1, 2006,” Chance wrote.
“Along the way I saw most everything that is stupid and venal about running a government,” he wrote.
Chance was the author of the political book, “Red on Blue.”
“‘Red on Blue’ is my observations of how Democrat structured governments work and why Republicans can’t run them. A few friends and I tried to restructure Alaska’s government in the early days of the Murkowski Administration so that it could actually be run by a Republican governor. Some things we got right, some not, but we got it better than it had been,” he continued.
Chance retired from serving as the state Director of Labor Relations. For Must Read Alaska, he frequently wrote about public employee and union negotiation issues. But at times he also did theater reviews, as he had for Must Read Alaska Publisher Suzanne Downing when she was editor of the Juneau Empire in the 1990s.
“Art was a friend, a mentor, a fierce advocate for the right thing,” said his good friend Tyler Andrews, who met Art in 1995 and was mentored by him during the Knowles Administration.
Although Chance was colorful, a prolific writer, and was known for his politically incorrect sayings, he always kept a courtly and appropriate demeanor during labor arbitration hearings, Andrews said.
“Art came across as full of bluster…. but he had integrity and he cared for those he mentored. His mentoring not only was passed on to those he taught but to the next generation that followed,” Andrews said.
Chance got his start in labor relations working for a union. He was a shop steward at a school and became involved with Laborers Local 71, and was a Democrat Party operative before he became a conservative.
In addition to working for the state of Alaska, he had worked at Stallone’s men’s shop, and worked at Cabela’s for about four years after he retired. He built greenhouses and solariums in Anchorage for a few years after the pipeline days, and did some contracting. He also wrote for Red State for a few years.
Chance had been in failing health for a few years, and after slipping on the ice and breaking his hip several years ago, he suffered from various health issues.
Some of his more memorable recent writing is linked below. More of his columns from the past seven years can be read by typing “Art Chance” into the search box at the top of Must Read Alaska.
Memorial service arrangements are being made at Heritage Memorial Chapel at Angelus in Anchorage. Juno said his ashes will be scattered later at Handtroller’s Cove near Juneau.