Former Alaska attorney general John Havelock dies at age 89

John Havelock, a former Alaska attorney general who guided the state during the years immediately before construction of the trans-Alaska pipeline system, died Tuesday at age 89, his family said on social media.

Havelock was a practicing attorney, was active in state and local politics for decades, and wrote a regular opinion column for the Daily News but had been in declining health.

Kate McKee, his stepdaughter, said he had battled prostate cancer for years and had heart surgery.

He remarried several times in his life, most recently in 2008 to Mona (Pitts) Havelock. She declined to talk Wednesday, but in a July 2021 interview with Southside Neighbors magazine, the pair said they have a blended family of seven children and nine grandchildren.

Services will be held at a later date, McKee said.

Born in Toronto in 1932, Havelock moved to the United States at age 14. He attended boarding school and entered Harvard University but was drafted into the U.S. Army. After his enlistment ended, he returned to Harvard and went on to law school, graduating in 1959.

He came to Alaska that year and worked for four years at the Alaska Department of Law before entering private practice. He was named a White House Fellow in 1967 and worked as a special assistant for the Secretary of Agriculture before Gov. Bill Egan named him attorney general in 1970.


In three years at that position, Havelock set the state’s position on the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the first North Slope oil tax system, and the state’s first limited-entry fishing program.

While in office, he participated in the drafting of the state’s constitutional amendment on privacy.

After quitting as attorney general, he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House, losing to Willie Hensley in the Democratic primary. A decade after his House loss, he won the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate but lost to Ted Stevens in the general election by a 71-28 margin. In 1990, he unsuccessfully ran for state Senate.

In 1977, he became a professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and served as founding director of UAA’s Criminal Justice Center and the UAA legal studies program.

After the Exxon Valdez oil spill, he was the lead lawyer and staff director for the state commission charged with investigating the accident.

Before retiring in 2019, he operated the law firm Havelock and Duffy.

James Brooks

James Brooks was a Juneau-based reporter for the ADN from 2018 to May 2022.