Former Alaska state representative and dentist Dr. Hugh "Bud" Fate Jr. passed away at his home in Fairbanks on Feb. 25, 2021, surrounded by his family. He was 91.
Bud Fate truly lived a life in full - as a bronc rider, college football player, Army corporal, baritone singer, gold miner, engineer, inventor, Bush pilot, union member, hunter, commercial and subsistence fisherman, dog musher, businessman, builder, education advocate, published author and art student of Rusty Heurlin - Bud was a true Alaska renaissance man. But most importantly, he was a dedicated father, grandfather and husband to his beloved wife, Mary Jane, for 65 years.
Raised in Eastern Oregon, Bud arrived in Alaska in 1950 at age 20 to work as an oil drilling roughneck in Umiat. He was drafted into the Army during the Korean War, and then returned to Fairbanks and met the love of his life, Mary Jane, an Athabascan from Rampart, who was running for Miss Alaska. He proposed while they were moose hunting, and they were married in 1954 at St. Matthew's Church. After attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks, together they raised their family, built a dental practice, built the Rampart Building on Fifth Avenue, commercial and subsistence fished at their Yukon River fish camp, became involved in statewide politics, and gave back to their community and state. They were the ultimate team, providing dental services to rural villages together, even serving on the UAF Board of Regents for a combined 24 years, with Bud serving for 16 years. Both earned honorary doctorates later from UAF. Their home was always bustling with love and activity, and open to so many dear cousins who lived there and who became a beloved part of the family, too.
An outspoken advocate of education, Bud and Mary Jane were instrumental in founding the Fairbanks Native Association which fought for the establishment of high schools in Alaska's rural communities, ending an era of sending our children to boarding schools. Bud's continued advancement of education led him to serve as president of the University of Alaska Board of Regents and interim president of the university during a time of transition.
He also served as president for the Alaska State Board of Dental Examiners, was on the Alaska Local Boundary Commission, chaired the federally appointed Alaska Land Use Council, was an executive committee member for the Alaska State Chamber and chairman of the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce, member of the Rotary Club, Vice Chair of the Alaska Republican Party and a delegate to the Republican National Convention. At the tender age of 71, he ran for state House, and then served in the Alaska state Legislature from 2001 to 2005. Even at age 91, he was still providing advice to senior state and federal elected officials. Bud will be missed across the state - from friends and cousins along the Yukon River to the many groups and individuals that he advised up to his last days.
To his family, Bud was a force of nature, a grounding rock, a philosopher, a mentor, the go-to who fixed all problems and a father who adored his wife and loved his family fiercely. He taught by example and included his kids in everything - from repairing a snowmachine, to feeding their dog team behind the house, to stuffing envelopes at political fundraisers, to going to meetings to impact legislation. He was a mentor, adviser and teacher up until the last hour of his life. His legacy was teaching his family to give back to our communities and make a difference.
Bud was preceded in death by his beloved Mary Jane, who passed on Good Friday, April 10, 2020. He is survived by his three daughters, Janine Avner (Correy), Jennifer Fate (Jean Louis Velaise) and Julie Sullivan (Dan); cousins, Alfred Woods, Dorothy Woods Shockley and Norm Phillips, Jr.; grandchildren, Barrett, Janna, Alex, Ben, Theo, Meghan, Isabella and Laurel; in-laws, Alice and Norman Phillips and Lilly Evans; and many beloved nieces and nephews.
The family also wanted to express our profound appreciation to Chris Sparaco, Bud's steadfast caregiver during his last years.
Funeral services will be at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Saturday, March 6, 2021, with visitation starting at 12 noon and the funeral at 1 p.m. (1300 Peger Road, Fairbanks). Burial services will immediately follow at Birch Hill Cemetery.
Bud believed in giving back to his community, especially by empowering youth with education. In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to "The Mary Jane and Hugh Fate Leadership Fund" at Doyon Foundation, 615 Bidwell Ave., Suite 101, Fairbanks, AK 99701. Please note "Fate Leadership Scholarship" in the memo line. Donations can also be sent to the University of Alaska Fairbanks General Scholarship Fund at https://engage.alaska.edu/UAF.