Longtime Fairbanks attorney Eugene "Gene" Belland passed away Feb. 5, 2013, in the loving arms of his faithful and best friend, Yuki Kawano.|
Gene was born Sept. 22, 1930, in St. Paul, Minn. He graduated from Cretin High School in St. Paul in 1948, attended St. Mary's College and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1955 with a law degree.
He came to Alaska as a legal officer with the U.S. Air Force in 1956. In 1960, he became a member of the Alaska Bar Association. In 1964, he set up a law practice at 709 Fifth Ave. where he lived and worked for the next half century.
He loved his work, people and his life in Fairbanks. He always said, "I'm married to my work, and my clients are my children."
One of his clients, an actress, Vera Peters, from London said, "He was a character like no other. His booming, friendly voice would come down the telephone wire: 'Eugeeeene BeLLAND speaking!' with an upward tone swing, as if he was singing your welcome into his telephone, and as if he did not have a care in the world.
"This acted reassuringly on the caller. Here was obviously a man in full possession of his senses and with a sense of humor; a rational, reasonable and just man - a lawyer you could trust."
Gene was well known for having the most "beautiful office in the world," piled high with paperwork.
He lived in his downtown, ramshackle house, which he did not own, acting as his own secretary by simply having all the files of his thousands of clients available at all times - on tabletops, chairs, bookshelves, etc. - but always knowing where any particular file was. Amazing!
Gene almost made a hobby of not accumulating any wealth and by charging very little. Impishly lowering his head toward his shoulder, he would, when asked by a client what his fee was, reply, "How much do you think it is worth?"
His teasing answer always left clients speechless. Then, he would charge clients as little as they would allow him to get away with.
His memory was prodigious for the detail of everybody's legal life, and he stayed in touch with his seminary school friends all of his life. He never married, though he acquired a lot of lifetime friends, both women and men.
Gene's Peter Pan-like take on life, his reserved, altar boy demeanor and his belief in his fellow man accompanied him throughout his life. And during the past 12 years he trusted and was devoted to Yuki.
Gene's beloved puppy, Betsy Rose, also departed shortly after Gene.
A memorial service will be from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25, 2013, at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center, 101 Dunkel St.
Donations for Gene's headstone are accepted at any Key Bank for the "Eugene Belland headstone donation account," or mail to P.O. Box 72276, Fairbanks, AK 99707.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Apr. 21, 2013