Former state Sen. Clem Tillion, who passed this week at age 96, was among the first legislators I met when I became The Associated Press capital correspondent in Juneau in 1976. He soon became my “go to” politician for a good quote when I was desperate for one. He had all the attributes a reporter wants. He was knowledgeable, approachable, articulate, funny and irascible. And he never dodged a question.
He was a Republican but not a partisan. He joined with Gov. Jay Hammond, a close friend, and liberal Democrats like House Speaker Hugh Malone to craft and then win passage of the Alaska Permanent Fund. He was an ardent conservationist. He was an honest man.
But above all, I’ll remember Tillion as one of the last living World War II veterans who came into the country after the war to become visionary public servants whose imprateur on Alaska will remain forever. And remember, Vic Fischer survives.