Slide show: Over 200 attend memorial for former Speaker Gail Phillips - Must Read Alaska
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Wednesday, June 16, 2021
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Slide show: Over 200 attend memorial for former Speaker Gail Phillips

The political leaders of Alaska turned out en masse to remember former House Speaker Gail Phillips, who died in March.

Among those who attended were former Gov. Sean Parnell and former First Lady Sandy Parnell, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Congressman Don Young. Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, Senate President Peter Micciche, and Anchorage Mayor-elect Dave Bronson and his wife Deb.

Alaska Republican Party National Committeewoman Cynthia Henry attended, and former Rep. Larry Baker was spotted, as was senatorial candidate Kelly Tshibaka. State Sen. Natasha Von Imhof and former State Sen. Ben Stevens were in the crowd, as was Nick and Dharna Begich.

Hobo Jim sang a ballad in Phillips’ memory outside of Kincaid Chalet under partly cloudy skies.

An open house continued after the memorial service until early evening. The family accepted donations to the newly created Gail Phillips leadership fund, a scholarship at University of Alaska Fairbanks. More about her life can be found at https://gailphillipsalaska.com.

Read: Passing Gail Phillips, former Alaska House Speaker

Born on May 15, 1944, to Lois and Wallace McIver in Juneau, Phillips was the oldest of seven girls and grew up in Council and Nome, Alaska. She spent her early summers in Council at the mining camp owned by her father and grandfather.

Phillips worked for Senate President Tim Kelly before she was sworn into the 25th Alaska State Legislature in January 1991. In 1993, Rep. Phillips became House Majority Leader before being elected Speaker of the House in 1995, a position she held for four years. She served on many boards and councils throughout her life, many with the University of Alaska, Alaska Aviation Museum and resource development causes. Phillips was an active member of the Homer United Methodist Church, and served on its Board.

Speaker Phillips won many awards and recognitions throughout her life. She is survived by her husband of 56 years, Walt; daughter, Robin Phillips; daughter, Kim Griffith; grandsons, Scott and Jace Griffith; her sisters, Barbie, Kay, Janny, Cheryl, Susan and Karen and their families; and many more grandnieces, grandnephews, cousins and friends.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Gail’s memorial service was the perfect send off for a true Alaska legend. A few dark clouds and some rumbles of thunder gave way to sunshine and a pleasant breeze – God’s way of telling us he has a smiling Gail in his house.
    To see her extended family together and think of the spirit and indomitable will of the mining families is to celebrate what Alaska means to all of us who love this land. Hard work, that “yes, I can and I will” attitude and lots of laughs have molded all of us who are guided by the great North Star.
    Gail was with us today and I am forever grateful that she was both a trusted colleague and friend.
    She is missed but will never be forgotten.

  • Well said Drue. It was a great memorial to a great Alaskan. She loved Alaska and had a real get it done spirit about her. And, she knew how to build bridges. Thankful to have had the privilege to know her and work with her.

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