Former Alaska state senator Cowdery dies at 83

Michelle Theriault Boots

Former Alaska state Sen. John Cowdery died of cancer Saturday at the age of 83, the Alaska Senate Majority said in a release.

Cowdery, a Republican, was first elected in 1982 and represented parts of the Anchorage Hillside and Lake Otis areas for 14 years in the Alaska House and Senate.

Cowdery was born in Missouri and moved to Alaska in 1950 at the age of 20, according to an official biography from his time as a state senator. He worked for years as a contractor before entering politics.

As a state legislator, Cowdery once served as the chair of the powerful Rules Committee.

In a statement Sunday Senate President Charlie Huggins, R-Wasilla, said Cowdery was a "strong Alaskan who brought many good ideas to the Legislature over the years."

In 2008, Cowdery was convicted in federal court of conspiring with Bill Allen, then the head of the oilfield services company Veco, to bribe another senator on an oil tax issue, according to a Daily News report. He was sentenced to home confinement and fined $25,000 after pleading guilty.

Cowdery had been married to his wife Juanita since 1951, according to his official biography. He had three children, three grandchildren and several great-grandchildren at the time of his death.

Reach Michelle Theriault Boots at or 257-4344.