Passing: Bud Fate, former lawmaker, dentist, husband to Mary Jane Fate, father in law to Sen. Sullivan


Alaskan Hugh “Bud” Fate passed on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. He was 91.

Fate was well-known in Alaska as a dentist who served many Interior communities, flying himself and his wife Mary Jane, who was a dental assistant, in and out of villages to perform dentistry. He was also known as a House of Representatives member, representing Fairbanks from 2001 to 2005.

He was the father of Julie Fate Sullivan, and the father-in-law of U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan. His other children were Janine, Jennifer, and Al H. Woods, who was Mary Jane Fate’s cousin.

On the floor of the U.S. Senate in December of 2019, Sen. Sullivan noted Bud Fate as “Alaskan of the Week” in honor of his 90th birthday:

“Bud, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, is a legend across Alaska. He has been a rodeo cowboy, a college football player, a roughneck, a soldier, a gold miner, a carpenter, a hunter, a commercial and subsistence fisherman, a dog musher, a bush  pilot, a dentist, a businessman, a state representative, an author, an artist—an Alaskan renaissance man through and through. But most importantly, he is a dedicated father, grandfather, husband to his wife, Mary Jane, for 65 years, and a man who has lived his life in service to his country, his State, and his community.”

Mary Jane, who was an Athabaskan elder, died in April of 2020 at age 86.

Bud Fate moved to Alaska in 1951, and lived in Fairbanks and Umiat. He earned his dental degree at the University of Oregon.

In the House, he was vice chair of the Legislative Budget & Audit Committee, vice chair of Resources Committee, vice chair of State Affairs, vice chair of the Special Committee on Oil and Gas, and served on Finance subcommittees for Fish & Game, Transportation & Public Facilities, and Revenue.

He was also the former president of the University of Alaska Board of Regents, was a trustee of the University of Alaska Foundation, served as vice chair of the Alaska Republican Party and was district chair for Alaska Republicans in what was District 33 Fairbanks.

He served as president for the Alaska State Board of Dental Examiners, was on the Alaska Local Boundary Commission, chaired the Alaska Land Use Council Advisory Committee and was an executive committee member for the Alaska State Chamber. He was chairman of the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce.

Sen. Sullivan was close to his father-in-law and will likely be issuing a statement later today.

Watch Sen. Sullivan’s tribute to Bud Fate at this link from December, 2019.

In addition to losing his mother-in-law and father-in-law, Sen. Sullivan also lost his own father last year, and his mother in 2019.

If you have fond memories of Bud Fate, you are welcome to leave them in the comments.


  1. Rest In Peace, my friend.

    You are one of the great pioneers who gave your all to make Alaska a better place and never asked for a thing in return.

  2. RIP Mr. Fate. Alaska was so blessed to have you for so long. I will be traveling home for your service as I did when your beautiful wife passed away. Much love to the Fate family from the McCotter family. We are happy you are dancing in heaven with Mary Jane.

  3. As Senator Sullivan notes, Bud was an extraordinary Alaskan. I came to know him from his time in the ASL. I had a great deal of respect for him. For Bud, public service was not about an employment opportunity. He was among a select group of legislators that brought a well-rounded resume to Juneau. With it came experience, maturity and perspective. All qualities that served him and his constituents well. He will be missed. But, it’s comforting to know he is now rejoined with the love of his life.

  4. Although I only served with Dr. Fate for one term, I feel very fortunate that our friendship lasted far beyond our service together. It’s hard to imagine two more dignified, delightful and distinguished Alaskans than Bud and Mary Jane Fate. They were a devoted couple who performed such meaningful service with great distinction, together and individually. Alaska is certainly a better place because Bud and Mary Jane Fate.

  5. Bud was just a great guy and will be missed by so many. My condolences to his family, keeping them in my thoughts and prayers.

  6. A vacant chair each Wednesday now at Laundry House Gang. We all will miss him very much. A gentleman and a gentle man.

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