Sheffield retires from Railroad Board

Bill Sheffield
Bill Sheffield

Former Gov. Bill Sheffield has retired from the board of the Alaska Railroad Corporation. Gov. Michael Dunleavy named him into an honorary position of Chairman Emeritus. Sheffield is 91 years old and was Alaska’s fifth governor.

“Over the years, Governor Sheffield has provided invaluable leadership and expertise to assist the Board in weathering harsh economic realities and making the changes necessary to ensure the survival of the railroad as a tool for economic development in the State,” said Gov. Dunleavy in a statement. 

Sheffield, a moderate Democrat, published his memoirs last year, available at Hearthside Books in Juneau and in other bookstores, including Amazon.

Dunleavy appointed Judy Petry of Elk City, Oklahoma to assume the Railroad Management vacancy left by Sheffield.

Petry has a long history of working in the rail industry that dates back to 1987 with the Farmrail System, where she began in accounting and rose to become president and general manager in 2014. Petry has served on the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association Board of Directors since 2004, and currently serves as chairman.

[Read Petry’s profile at Progressive Railroading]

Dunleavy also appointed John Shively of Anchorage to the Alaska Railroad Corporation Board of Directors. Shively will assume the expired Third Judicial District seat, held by Linda Leary since 2009. 

“I thank Linda for her exceptional years of service to the state and the railroad,” said Dunleavy. “In her 10 years of service with the railroad, she brought to the table keen leadership, strategic planning, and a deep understanding of Alaska’s unique logistics and transportation needs. Linda’s tenure as a board member and chairwoman has ensured the future success of our transportation industry.” 

Shively earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He helped develop the Red Dog Mine while serving as chief operating officer for NANA Regional Corporation from 1992 to 1994. Shively served as chief of staff to Gov. Sheffield from 1983 to 1985, and later as commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources under Gov. Tony Knowles from 1995 to 2000.

Shively came to Alaska as a VISTA volunteer, is a former regent for the University of Alaska. He served on the boards of the Anchorage Symphony, Democratic Leadership Council, Junior Achievement of Alaska, Inc., and the Alaska Federation of Natives Legislative Committee, and numerous other boards. In the 1990s, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alaska tapped him to head up a statewide campaign to raise nearly $1 million. He now is chairman of the Pebble Project for Northern Dynasty.


  1. Elegant move making former Governor Sheffield the Honorary Chair and designating person who appears to be highly competent to manage the Alaska Railroad.
    Whether John Shively can add value here remains to be seen.
    Time will tell but best wishes are in order for the Alaska Railroad.

  2. Pardon me for mentioning, should some not know, that when he served as Governor, Mr. Sheffield was a virulent Democrat partisan. Several of his appointees were simply nasty people. Lots of folks get all chummy with him these days. I ain’t gonna forget.

      • More name calling. You can do better. My point is that Mr. Sheffield isn’t the big teddy bear that some make him out to be. His conduct as Governor was so extreme as to give rise to Alaska’s only proceeding involving impeachment of a Governor.

  3. His term on the RR Board spans several decades. Sheffield owns hotels and is involved deeply in the tourist trade. How many brochures and informational booklets on the passenger trains and in the train depots advertise for Sheffield’s hotels (brochures produced by State of Alaska)? Sheffield is not the only RR board member who was greatly enriched by service on the Board.

    • Joe Cheesy unacknowledged Facts are making me sick! The man was a scam artist! Milked the RR almost as bad a Walker did the non-gasline scan.

      • Never heard of the Sheffield House? Westmark Hotel? Sheffield had hotels in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. Also owned large commercial properties around the state. Heavily invested and involved in numerous tourism businesses. Bill Sheffield is an extremely wealthy businessman. Democrat. He used state assets to his advantage. Even the Democrats got tired of his opportunism and his many conflicts while in office between 82-86. His star sunk in 85-86 and the public booted him out of office. He’s probably worth 300 or 400 million.

  4. Sheffield used his position as RR Board Chairman to grease the wheels of his tourism interests around the state. He got his a$$ kicked in the 1986 governor’s primary race because he was renting out his 5th Avenue building in Fairbanks to the government under a sweetheart deal, while serving as the governor. Sheffield was a shady operator and got caught. But you like protecting these kind of fellows, don’t you Joe. Birds of a feather…….. Joe, honesty is still the best policy.

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