On August 13, 2012, Senator Al Adams passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family.
Albert P. Sikkiagruk Adams was born June 18, 1942, in Kotzebue, Alaska. He attended Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka. Following high school, he attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and RCA Technical Institute.
The late Senator lived a life of service and was known for a generosity of spirit and drive to help others in both his public and private life.
To his family, he was a beloved husband, father and grandfather for whom family was the highest priority. He often organized subsistence hunting and fishing trips for his children, where he passed down traditional Iñupiaq skills. He coordinated all the logistics for these memorable outings and even served as camp cook, making sure everyone else was well fed. Whether dipnetting at the mouth of the Kenai, caribou hunting outside of Kotzebue or visiting the fish wheel at Chitina, he let his wife, children and grandchildren know that they were loved and that they came first and foremost in his life.
He was also a romantic and loving husband, planning vacations for his wife, Diane, to celebrate and share the milestones they achieved together as a couple. Travel was one of his favorite pastimes and one he loved to share with her.
Although he led a very public life, he also was a man of many unsung good deeds on a personal level. Many people did not know that he kept cash in his vehicle console to give to those in need, or that he provided meals to those who were hungry. At Christmas, boxes of turkeys would arrive at Bean's Café and money for holiday goody bags would arrive at the Friends Church. The individual recipients never knew who had lent them a hand.
Even as his illness progressed, he cared for others and tried to ease their worries with humor. He wanted others to be comfortable and to enjoy life. He put people first and was always prepared to serve them. He believed in God, in a higher power, and was a teacher and mentor to many.
Publicly, the late Senator's service to his beloved state improved the lives of those he represented in rural Alaska. His long career in public service began in the late 1960s and included eight years in the Alaska State House beginning in 1980, during which he represented District 37 which included the communities of the NANA/Maniilaq and Arctic Slope regions. From 1988-2000, he served in the Alaska State Senate, also representing the Bering Straits/Kawerak region.
Following his retirement from the Alaska State Legislature, Senator Adams served as president of Adams Management Services and worked for the Northwest Arctic Borough and North Slope Borough as an advisor, sharing his understanding of state government and how it could help the people of rural Alaska.
In 2003, he began a new career as a lobbyist with a focus on representing rural and Alaska Native interests. He again provided a powerful voice in Juneau and Washington, DC, drawing on his years of state legislative experience. He brought the same passion to lobbying that he had as a legislator, always saying those he represented weren't his clients, they were his people. He tirelessly promoted the continued successes of Mt. Edgecumbe High School because of the valuable opportunities it provides to develop relationships between talented young Alaska Native people.
Senator Adams' hospitality to his peers, staff, clients and visitors at the capitol is still remembered to this day. His door and telephone lines were always open to Alaskans, no matter where they lived. He worked hard to guarantee that rural Alaska gained its fair share of state funding and joined his colleagues on statewide efforts that benefited all Alaskans.
An astute lawmaker, he was a master at understanding politics and state finances and chaired the powerful House Finance Committee during his eight-year term in the State House. He served 18 years on the Legislative Budget and Audit Committee and 12 years on the Operating Budget Conference Committee. He served on other key committees that helped protect subsistence and bring needed infrastructure and social services to rural Alaska.
He fought hard for the establishment and continued existence of the Power Cost Equalization (PCE) program; convincing the Alaska Legislature to establish an endowment to fund PCE in perpetuity.
Prior to his legislative service, he held other positions as president of Kikiktagruk Inupiat Corporation and executive vice president of NANA Regional Corporation. He also served on numerous boards including the Alaska Airlines Advisory Board, Arctic Power, Mt. Edgecumbe and NANA Regional Corporation.
He was preceded in death by his mother, Sarah Seeberger, sister Vicky Bartholme, and his father Frank Scott and his much loved aunts and uncles.
He is survived by his wife, Diane Adams; sisters Adra Distefano, Sarah Scanlan and Darlene "Red" Seeberger; children Al "Sonny" Adams, Guy Adams, Herb Adams, Michelle Merculieff, Thomas Adams and Luke Adams; and ten grandchildren.
A service was held in Anchorage on Wednesday, August 15, 2012, at ChangePoint, followed by a reception. Funeral services will be at the Kotzebue High School gym at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, August 17, 2012. The family extends heartfelt thanks to Al's many friends and family who offered their assistance during his illness and who came to visit, called, brought food and sent messages of love and support.
Memorial contributions may be made to Beans Café, 1101 East 3rd Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99501.
Published in The Juneau Empire on Aug. 16, 2012