Happy 95th birthday to one of Alaska’s tallest trees

I love Mexico, but this Cinco de Mayo, I am raising my margarita to celebrate the 95th birthday of an amazing Alaskan. He served in the territorial Legislature and the Alaska Senate, and is the last living delegate to the 1955 Alaska’s Constitutional Convention. Vic Fischer is an Alaskan legend who has dedicated his life to public service.

Whether speaking as the former Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research or just addressing a class of students, Vic’s love and concern for the welfare of all Alaskans remains genuine and palpable. In his most recent op-ed in opposition to the governor’s proposed budget, he urged Alaskans to stand up to defend the fabric of our communities, as we have in the past. Two weeks ago, he addressed an Alaska Historical Commission forum to discuss how the Natural Resource article of the Alaska Constitution has directed the state to make decisions about resource use “in the best interest of the public."

Even though Fischer has written an amazing autobiography that reads like a political thriller, with appearances by Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt, he does not rest on his laurels. Instead, with a keen intellect, he stays engaged in state policy and local government issues. He shows up time and time again at fundraisers and community events. Name your favorite Alaskan cause or group; Fischer was likely to be there, because he cares deeply about social and economic justice and insuring that the state government is a responsible steward of our lands and waters.

As one who is uniquely situated to remind Alaskans of the values and directives embodied in our constitution, Fischer often steps up to shine a light on our fundamental values. For example, he became a strong voice for fiscal accountability with “Backbone,” a group of Alaska leaders opposed to Senate Bill 21. When it came time to protect our independent judiciary, he spoke out and reminded us to support the open and transparent method of selecting judges in Alaska. As the Alaska Municipal League knows, Fischer has been a consistent promoter of strong local government. Whether the concern at hand is education, fiscal accountability, or simply putting Alaska first, he still weighs in.

What many people don’t realize about Fischer is that he was Alaska’s first town planner and first planning director for the city of Anchorage, where he laid out greenbelts for the first time. Including his time with the University of Alaska, Vic has taken part in Alaska government and politics for more than 60 years. Thank you, Vic Fischer, for six decades of being a beacon of wisdom for all Alaskans.

Kate Troll is a long-time Alaskan who first me Vic Fischer when she was a community development planner in Ketchikan in the 1980s. Since then, she continued to cross paths with Vic on several of his “what’s best for Alaska” initiatives and is fortunate to call him a good friend.

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