The early reports were confirmed this afternoon, Ted Stevens lost his life in a plane crash on his way to go fishing with friends. (LINK)
I felt pretty deflated when Senator Ted Stevens was drummed out of office a couple of years back. Today I feel plumb awful. His work on behalf of the people of Alaska and the entire United States has been greatly missed. His passing marks the end of an era.
The photo above shows Senator Stevens, Senator Inouye and Major General John Holly on a visit to military construction site I worked on a few years ago. Senator Inouye is wearing a lei fashioned from whirly gig fishing lures. General Holly is explaining what we built with the tax dollars the Senators allocated to our project. I don't normally rub shoulders with the higher ups but I was very impressed to listen to questions the senators asked and the answers they received. In a world full of second rate soft headed middle managers I was glad to learn that the guys in charge were first rate thinkers and top notch leaders.
On another occasion Uncle Ted brought Thanksgiving dinner to the post with assistance of the Alaska National Guard. Outside of Alaska I don't think the ordinary guy is ever on the receiving end of a nice visit and a hot meal from a senior elected official who rides into town in a C-130. Sure all politicians press the flesh, kiss babies and want votes, but I think Ted Stevens enjoyed seeing the people of Alaska and filling the role of the favorite uncle.
A chair was set up for Uncle Ted to play the part of Santa and entertain the kids after the meal. I stood in the chow line with Uncle Ted and ask him about my favorite subject - the Alaska Gas Pipeline. I asked him if Santa Claus would bring Alaska a gas pipeline. Ted Stevens laughed and told me I was like the guy who asked Santa for sports car and awoke to find matchbox toy car in his stocking. He told me that I might find a soda straw in my stocking instead of a full sized pipeline. That was years ago and I'm still asking Santa for a pipeline and waking up to find something much less.
We'll miss you Uncle Ted.