Anchorage’s Sullivan Arena is a big place. For a concert or a basketball game, it can seat more people — 8,700 — than live in most Alaska communities
Special Olympics Alaska needed a big place the night all the volunteers gathered for a final farewell.
On this cold December evening, as a group of citizens in this Anchorage community gather in a little downtown park, I remember a March night in 1983. Three teenagers, Samantha, Kris and I were somewhere in the Tennessee hills, on a Trailways bus, leaving behind chaos and confusion, bad parents, bad friends, bad lives, heading for something, anything better.
Elvera Voth stood on the scarred wooden stage talking to mezzo-soprano Sherri Weiler and baritone Jim Lanier, who were rehearsing a duet from Don Giovanni. The other 29 members of the Alaska Chamber Singers were milling around the stage, talking, drinking tea, eyeing a table laden with sausage, bread and cheese.
The first time I went out on the ice during whaling season in Barrow was in the spring of 1973. I’d barely been there for six months and, as a recently transplanted New Yorker, was blissfully ignorant of any danger that didn’t involve derelicts with squeegees.
If you saw her making a speech at a Native elders potlatch, or arm wrestling some politician for program money, you might figure out Katherine Gottlieb is the CEO of a $100 million health corporation.
But you probably wouldn’t realize right away that she’s responsible for fixing EVERYTHING.