Former Alaska Senate President Lyda Green died on Dec. 19, 2023 in Soldotna. She had been ill for several months and was being cared for at Central Peninsula Hospital.
She was born to Melvin and Nona (Reed) Handley on Oct. 16, 1938 in Livingston, Texas. Her family moved to Freeport, Texas in 1942, where her father was a chemist with Dow Chemical and her mother taught piano lessons.
Lyda graduated from Brazosport High School in 1956. In her youth, Lyda played basketball, sang in choir, and played football with the neighborhood boys.
Throughout her life she kept friends from childhood, many of whom gathered each year in Freeport for reunions. She attended Sam Houston University in Huntsville, Texas and graduated in three years with a degree in Business Education.
After college she worked in Houston for an independent oil operator. She met her future husband of 62 years, Curtis Green, when she and her roommate needed substitutes for a bridge party. They invited the handsome young men in the apartment across the hall to join them. Curtis and his roommate readily accepted. Six months later, on April 1, 1961, she married Curtis Glen Green Jr. in Mexico City, Mexico. They called their parents (collect) to let them know they had eloped.
After marrying, Curtis let Lyda know he always wanted to return to Alaska, where his family had relocated to in 1955. Lyda had never seen snow but readily accepted. In 1962, Lyda taught for a year at West (Anchorage) High School, then went to work for Pan American Petroleum. She and Curtis were in their tiny Spenard home during the 1964 earthquake, watching their piano dance across floor.
In 1965, their first child, Bradley, was born in Anchorage. Curtis’ work with Texaco took them to Louisiana, and then with Bechtel Engineering to San Francisco and Lusaka, Zambia.
Lyda gave birth to Kristie Green (now Babcock) in 1967 in Lusaka, Zambia. In 1968 the family returned to Anchorage. During their Anchorage years, Lyda served as Girl Scout and Cub Scout mom, chair of the Miners and Trappers Ball, an active Lion, guest cook on the Theda Comstock Show, hostess of dinner and bridge parties, volunteer at First Baptist Church Anchorage, co-owner of the Anchorage Racquet Club and a founding member of the Alaska Youth Tennis Foundation.
Their family grew as Lyda gave birth to Shelton in 1976.
In 1984, they began their Wasilla years on the shores of Mudd Lake, hosting annual summer picnics, supporting youth hockey, and being active in First Baptist Churches of Wasilla and Willow. Lyda opened The Study in her home, where she tutored hundreds of children and adults. She served on the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education.
In 1994, Lyda was elected to the Alaska State Senate in an upset election against longtime incumbent, Democrat Jalmar M. “Jay” Kerttula, who at the time was the longest-serving member in the history of the Alaska Legislature.
Representing the greater Wasilla-Palmer area, Lyda went on to serve 14 years in the Alaska State Senate, where she sponsored major reform in pensions, welfare, education, agricultural lands, the right to keep and bear arms, and many other major policies.
Her public service and private life were always guided by her strong moral, religious, and political principles. From both sides of the aisle, Lyda was respected for her honesty, decorum, and conviction.
Her last two years in the Alaska State Senate she served as Senate President.
In 2016, after 55 years in Alaska, she and Curtis moved full time to Texas. They hosted their children, grandchildren, greatgrandchildren and others on numerous occasions in Kerrville and Ingram. They sang and worshipped at Trinity Baptist Church of Kerrville. Curtis and Lyda returned to Alaska in May 2023.
Lyda will be remembered for engaging conversation, devotion to family, love of God, hospitality and welcoming nature, and fondness for sewing and gifting beautiful items. Lyda was preceded in death by her father, mother, and brother Marvin. Lyda is survived by husband Curtis, son Bradley Green (wife Dianne); daughter Kristie Babcock, (husband Tuckerman); son Shelton (wife Heather); grandchildren Kelsie (husband Joshua) Edgren, Cori Leaf, Noah (wife Treava) Leaf, Jiabao Leaf, Meijan Leaf, Caleb Green, Daniel (and Serena), Victoria Green, Everly Green, Sutton Green, and Anderson Green; and sister Vickie Symington.
Cards may be sent to the family at 36815 Hakala Dr. Soldotna, AK 99669. Services will be planned at a later date.