Roger Jenkins, a former Alaska legislator and fighter for conservatives, passed away last month. He died June 18, 2020 at Providence Hospital in Anchorage after complications from a previous surgery.
Jenkins was born in 1941 in Minnesota, where he was raised. He graduated from Staples Minnesota High School in 1959 and earned a bachelor of science degree in history and geology from the University of Minnesota and a master of science in geography from the University of North Dakota.
Once he decided his future was in the “last frontier” of Alaska, Jenkins headed north traveling from Minnesota with a longtime friend.
He was a man of knowledge, varied interests and talents. He had been a high school science and math instructor for five years, scoutmaster and camp counselor, YMCA swimming instructor, construction iron worker and carpentry laborer, University of Alaska Geology and Geography instructor, City of Anchorage engineering administrator, and a consulting mineral geologist.
He also served for several years as the village administrative officer at Nikolai and McGrath.
Roger had lots of friends, workmates, and buddies all over Alaska. He belonged to a long list of clubs and organizations where he met and stayed in touch with friends throughout his many careers.
He was involved with Alaska Miners, Chugach Gem and Mineral Society, Captain Cook Old Sourdough Jaycees, Alaska Geological Society, Association of American Geographers, Moose Lodge No. 1534, Top of the World Toastmasters, Viking Club, and was a member of the Iditarod Dogsled Race Committee from 1989-2002.
Jenkins was also a member of the Alaska Republican Party’s State Central Committee and precincts. He worked as a campaign consultant and ran for House once again in 2002.
Some of his contemporaries in the House were Reps. Alyce Hanley, Terry Martin, both Mike Millers, Al Adams, Johne Binkley, Red Boucher, Sam Cotten, Mike Navarre, Drue Pearce, Fritz Pettyjohn, Steve Frank, Katie Hurley, Steve Rieger, Randy Phillips, Robin Taylor, Mike Szymanski, and Sens. Edna DeVries, Rick Halford, Pat Rodey, and Mitch Abood, who was a close friend.
He also was avid follower of all things about sports teams and had yearly passes for local games. He had special spectator seats that he occupied on a regular basis.
Jenkins served a 2-year term from 1985-1986 as a Representative during the Fourteenth State Legislature. He was inspired by the trust of the Anchorage District 11-A voters he represented. As a minority member of the Legislature, he didn’t get his first choice on committee assignments, but he served on the House Resources Committee, State Affairs Committee, and the Special Committee on Fisheries.
During his campaign he managed to unseat the incumbent representative from Spenard and recapture his mentor, Sen. Mitch Abood’s House Seat back to the Republicans.
He knew beating an incumbent would be hard work but would make the difference. He also knew that lots of people in his party didn’t think he could unseat a Democrat in a Democratic district.
Jenkins’ passion was politics and he was intrigued by campaigns. His passion was getting Republicans elected to office and he liked all the elements of a campaign — compiling voting turnout statistics, polling, identifying likely voters, mentoring prospective candidates, selecting campaign brochure design and colors, and choosing sign locations. These were not work but more of a sport for him.
Jenkins is survived by his sister, Rita Jensen and his brother Russell Jenkins of Minnesota, as well as his close friend David Garrison.