Juneau was an exciting but intimidating place when I first started visiting the legislature as head of Alaska Public Radio Network in the early ‘80s. There were legislators who were quite adept at avoiding eye contact (and still are today) no matter how hard you tried to engage them while walking down the long halls. Senator Arliss Sturgulewski was not one of those legislators. She was welcoming, kind, frank—ever the advisor and mentor for a young lobbyist who had no idea what she was doing.

A moderate Republican at that time (I believe she’s since dropped her party affiliation), she acted in the best interests of Alaskans, whether they were her constituents or not. A true Alaska Stateswoman. She was willing to work with whomever shared her passions—Republican, Democrat, urban, rural, it didn’t matter. We could use some Sturgulewski-ism today, couldn’t we?

On the occasion of your 90th birthday, a big hug to you, Arliss, from me and all of Alaska. Thank you for setting the bar high for public servants, for fighting for the little guys, for standing up for what you believe, for making everyone feel like they matter. We love you!