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Photos: Sen. Al Adams leaves lasting Alaska legacy

The late Al Adams (right) flashes his trademark smile next to his son Guy Adams at the Arctic Economic Development Summit in Barrow in 2001.
Bill Hess photo
The late Al Adams speaks at an Alaska Federation of Natives board meeting in Anchorage in the early 1980s. Adams died in August.
Bill Hess photo
These 2009 Mt. Edgecumbe High School graduating seniors represent the thousands of students who have attended the renowned boarding school in Sitka since the late 1940s. The late Al Adams of Kotzebue, an Edgecumbe graduate, helped save the school from permanent closure in the 1980s.
John Creed photo
Kotzebue Electric Association operates these wind turbines outside the remote community in Northwest Arctic Alaska. The state’s Power Cost Equalization program, championed by the late state legislator Al Adams, also assists rural Alaska in lowering electric bills.
John Creed photo
A four-wheeler turns off Kotzebue’s newly renovated Front Street, recently renamed Sikkiagruk Shore Avenue after the late state Sen. Al Adams. Adams had long promoted the $38 million road project, which includes safe sidewalks, anti-erosion engineering, and energy-efficient lighting.
Susan B. Andrews photo
Craig Medred

For 20 years, from 1980 through 2000, Adams represented constituents in the Northwest Arctic and North Slope boroughs (and the Nome region to some extent) in the Alaska House and Senate. For the final dozen years of his life, Adams continued to work state Capitol halls in Juneau as a consultant and then as a lobbyist, primarily for rural clients.

When Adams passed away in August, this political powerhouse left behind thousands of admirers throughout Alaska along with many friends and a large extended family.

“When 1500 people come to your funeral, that’s a great sign of respect,” said Arliss Sturgulewski, who at 85 is an elder stateswoman, former state senator and former Republican nominee for governor in 1990.

Sturgulewski and Adams served together in the state legislature throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s. Two days after Adams died, Sturgulewski joined the legions of mourners who filled the cavernous ChangePoint mega-church in Anchorage to remember and celebrate the late senator’s life.

The crowd included some of Alaska’s most prominent business and political figures, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Republican Gov. Sean Parnell, former Democratic governors Bill Sheffield and Tony Knowles as well as sitting and former lawmakers from across the political spectrum.

Political parties didn’t matter much to Adams, for the Democrat from Kotzebue worked both sides of the aisle in Juneau.

READ MORE: Sen. Al Adams remembered as statesman with big heart and political skill