Ian Fisk, the son of late Juneau Mayor Stephen "Greg" Fisk, talks about his father during a celebration of life held in the elder Fisk's honor Sunday at Centennial Hall.

Ian Fisk, the son of late Juneau Mayor Stephen "Greg" Fisk, talks about his father during a celebration of life held in the elder Fisk's honor Sunday at Centennial Hall.

In memoriam: Juneau mayor Greg Fisk

BY SAM DEGRAVE

JUNEAU EMPIRE

At the end of October, I had the privilege of sitting down with Greg Fisk — Juneau’s then recently elected (and even more recently sworn in) mayor — to see how he was liking the job. I call this a privilege because Greg was always pleasant to speak with and, as a self-described “policy wonk,” he was a reporter’s dream to interview. He always supported his ideas with facts, and he made a point to cite his sources, too. He had high hopes for Juneau, but he was also very practical. He made this clear during the election, which he won handily, and during his brief tenure as mayor, cut short by his death from natural causes on Nov. 30 at the age of 70. The last question I asked Greg that day in October was: “What would you like your legacy to be? How would you like to be remembered?”

He chuckled a little as he gently shook his head. “It’s far too early to talk about legacy,” he told me.

He went on to say that he just hoped to bring people together, to “galvanize” the community.

Greg was right. That question probably was a bit premature. But I have a feeling that if I asked the same question at the end of his tenure he’d still have dodged it. He was as humble as he was diligent in his effort to make Juneau “the world’s best small city.” Though at times it may too early to talk about legacy, it’s never too early to start leaving one. Greg certainly did; and to hold myself to the same standard to which Greg always held himself, here are my sources:

Greg,

Long before you were mayor, you loved Juneau and worked to make it a better place for all of us. Working with you on the JEDC board, especially in expanding NOAA’s presence in Juneau was a great pleasure. It is so nice to work with committed unselfish people. I miss your dedication.

— Chuck Collins

Greg’s death is a tremendous loss to our community. In his abbreviated tenure as Mayor, Greg brought new energy and ideas for growing jobs, boosting economic development, addressing the city’s housing issues, and enhancing Juneau’s role as Alaska’s Capital City. We hope Assembly members and his successor take inspiration from his positive vision.

As a neighbor and friend, Greg Fisk will be deeply missed.

— Bob King and Sally Schlichting

The shared feelings and experiences of the people at the “Remembering Greg Fisk” at the Downtown Improvement Group meeting on Dec. 4 was personal and poignant. Bruce Denton was correct when he said that each of us is often divided into a “lumper” or a “splitter”. He said that Greg had that unique capability of being both and that he knew just when and where to use each skill. I took from that the wisdom that we can honor Greg’s life and legacy by knowing when to be a “lumper” and when to be a “splitter”. The key and challenge for those who can honor him is to know the difference and use those skills wisely in our lives and community.

— Carolyn Brown

My knees buckled when I tuned in to KTOO on Monday evening to listen to the Borough Assembly meeting and learned of Greg’s passing. Being a fan of Jim Croce’s beautiful songs, I was struck with the same reaction I had with his untimely death – all the wonderful songs he would never get to sing and I would never get to hear. Whether you just met Greg or have known him for years, you know that he had an incredible love of our town. In Jim Croce’s song “Time in a Bottle” he sang, “there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do once you find them…” If you believe as I do, that time is the most valuable currency, you know that Greg was generous beyond belief. Juneau has lost an incredibly selfless, compassionate, visionary, friend and leader. Like many, I am a better person for having known him. His passing has increased my resolve to honor his legacy by pursuing his passion of trying to make Juneau the best little town in the world.

— Bruce Denton

Greg was not only a colleague on the Assembly but a good friend for the last 17 years. We first worked together on developing strategies and programs to help Alaska salmon fishermen compete against the influx of farmed salmon in global markets. His compassion, problem-solving skills, and tenacity shined back then and we soon became friends in fish. Now, as friends in public service, we were about to embark on another journey of teamwork. I will miss him deeply and with the help of other community leaders endeavor to carry on his vision of Juneau becoming a landmark resource research center with a vibrant, revitalized downtown.

To share a short story, Greg and I are swimmers and would often be swimming laps together at Augustus Brown pool. I like to swim with short fins, called Zoomers, that are designed to make swimmers with lazy legs kick. No matter how many times I explained the thinking behind the design of these short fins, Greg would ALWAYS, say to me when done with our laps… Guess I’m going to have to get a pair of them Cheaters, knowing full well he never would. This was classic Greg, intent on hard work but always keeping his sense of humor.

— Kate Troll

A common thread looking back on Greg’s work was his selflessness in working for the benefit of his community and Alaska’s fishing fleets. He was more interested in improving things on a much larger scale than his own self benefit. He was just getting started as mayor and was inspired to improve Juneau and downtown. The best we can do is take inspiration from his example.

— Mark Vinsel, Juneau Artists Gallery

Juneau Mayor Greg Fisk was a well known leader in Alaska fisheries and in the Juneau community, and worked for Alaska fishermen for decades. He was known for taking ideas and selflessly working to make them happen to help Alaska fishermen. As a Fisheries Specialist in the Division of Economic Development, he worked on dozens of plans to help turn around the salmon industry during some of the hardest years in its economic history. More recently he helped Alaska shrimp fishermen qualify and developed business resources USDA Trade Adjustment Assistance program. Over the last two years, he helped put together a realistic business plan for OceansAlaska to be the first commercial shellfish hatchery in Alaska, among many other significant accomplishments. Most notably he stepped forward in the leadership in his community to be elected as Juneau mayor. Greg had great hopes and inspiration for embracing the seafood industry and moving Juneau forward as the center of Alaska fisheries science and research. He will be missed, and appreciated for his contributions to the Alaska fishing industry.

— Jerry McCune, President of United Fishermen of Alaska

I am grateful for the time I had to know Greg Fisk in the past few years and I am deeply saddened that our time was so short. I always enjoyed Greg’s ability to engage in conversation and the way he took on topics and ideas with enthusiasm. As I watched his journey to becoming Mayor Fisk, I was greatly struck by his humility and his ability to say when he didn’t know something. He embodied a deep love for Juneau and caught others up in his vision of what it could become. Our community has lost a friend and a leader. You will be missed, Greg.— Samantha Dye

Greg Fisk talks about his first week as Juneau mayor during an interview on Oct. 23. Fisk died of natural causes Nov. 30 at age 70.

Greg Fisk talks about his first week as Juneau mayor during an interview on Oct. 23. Fisk died of natural causes Nov. 30 at age 70.

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