Victor Fischer, who was the last surviving member of the Alaska Constitution Convention, died on Sunday evening at his home in Anchorage after a long life and more recently, extended hospice care.
Fischer, who was 99, was born May 4, 1924, in Berlin, Germany and raised in Russia. His father was American and his mother was Russian. After slipping out of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, his family came to America in 1939, and he eventually moved to the territory of Alaska, where he was elected to the Constitutional Convention when he was just 31 years old.
Along the way, he had earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering at the University of Wisconsin, and an advanced degree from MIT.
Fischer was the University of Alaska’s first director of the Institute for Social and Economic Research, and actively participated in Alaska government and politics for over 50 years.
He was a territorial legislator, and after taking part in the creation of the state as a delegate in 1955 to the Constitutional Convention, was elected as a state senator. He remained engaged in state policy, local government, and Alaska-Russia issues and was a committed member of the Democratic Party. He earned his masters in public administration from Harvard University in the 1960s and in 2006 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from University of Alaska Anchorage. In 2012 he published his autobiography, To Russia With Love, co-authored by Charles Wohlforth.
Fischer is the last of a generation of statehood founders. Before he died, Katie Hurley, chief clerk to the Alaska Constitutional Convention, died Feb. 21, 2021 at the age of 99. Prior to her death, Lt. Gov. Jack Coghill, a delegate like Vic Fisher, died at age 93 in 2019.
“Vic Fischer’s life story reads like a real-life Forrest Gump, with appearances by Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Eleanor Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Saul Alinsky and many more, together with everyone in the whole history of Alaska from statehood to the present day,” say the liner notes to The Great Alaska Show interview with Fischer in 2022. It can be heard at this link.
Indeed, Fischer was a committed politico of the Left. Just last year he believed that Rep. David Eastman, of Wasilla, should not be allowed to serve in the Legislature because he attended a rally in Washington. D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021 and stood outside holding a Trump flag. Eastman was put on trial in Alaska in 2022 due to his passive membership in the group called “Oathkeepers.” He prevailed, but the spectacle put a chill on Alaskans’ perception of First Amendment protections and whether they, too, could be hauled up in front of a judge just for expressing their beliefs.
“It’s so basic,” Fischer told Politico. “If somebody comes along and wants to destroy the constitutional structure of Alaska, they should not be elected to the Legislature.”