Clear86° WeatherClear86° Weather

Praise for Stevens

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska,  had survived another air crash more than 30 years ago that claimed the life of his wife.

Associated Press (2008)

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska,  had survived another air crash more than 30 years ago that claimed the life of his wife.

JUNEAU, Alaska — A float plane carrying former Sen. Ted Stevens and former NASA chief Sean O'Keefe crashed into a remote mountainside in Alaska, killing the longtime senator and four others, authorities said Tuesday.

O'Keefe and his teenage son survived the crash with broken bones and other injuries, said former NASA spokesman Glenn Mahone. The O'Keefes spent Monday night on the mountain with several volunteers who discovered the wreckage and tended to the injured until rescuers arrived Tuesday morning.

Longtime fishing buddies, Stevens, 86, and O'Keefe, 54, had been planning a trip near the crash site near Dillingham in Bristol Bay, about 325 miles southwest of Anchorage.

More than 30 years ago, Stevens survived a plane crash at the Anchorage airport that claimed the life of his first wife.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known, but the flights at Dillingham are often perilous through the mountains, even in good weather. The aircraft is a 1957 DeHavilland DHC-3T registered to Anchorage-based General Communications Inc., a phone, Internet and cable company.

"Mean, miserable ..."

Stevens, a self-described "mean, miserable SOB," was unapologetic about defending the interests of the nation's northern frontier. For difficult fights on the Senate floor, he famously wore a scowl and a necktie featuring the legendary, raging Incredible Hulk.

"They sent me here," he once said, "to stand up for the state of Alaska."

Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in Senate history , served as chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee from 1997 to 2005 and wielded enormous influence as the ranking minority member when Democrats controlled the Senate. He funneled billions in federal funding to infrastructure projects and development in Alaska.

His efforts earned him the moniker "Uncle Ted." Federal spending in the state became known as "Stevens money."

In 2000, the state Legislature named Stevens "Alaskan of the Century." That same year the state received more money per capita than any other, making the senator a target of budget watchdogs from his own party.

Stevens fought successfully for the Alaska oil pipeline, a boon to the state economy. He helped push through the Native Claims Settlement Act, winning compensation and millions of acres of land for native communities. He protected the state's fisheries by supporting a ban on many foreign-owned ships in Alaskan waters.

One project Stevens backed — for a bridge to a sparsely populated island — became known as the "Bridge to Nowhere," a symbol of government waste.

Ethics charges

Stevens was president pro tempore of the Senate in 2003 when he came under fire for a series of personal investments with people and companies that directly benefited from his work in the Senate.

He directed a $450 million contract to an Anchorage businessman who made Stevens a partner in a profitable real estate venture. A company Stevens helped create won millions in defense contracts. The senator, who after a lifetime of public service had never accumulated wealth, quickly became a millionaire.

Ethics accusations reached Stevens again five years later, when a sweeping political corruption investigation rocked Alaska politics. Stevens was eventually charged with seven counts of making false statements on his Senate financial disclosure forms and was found guilty.

"My motto has been: To hell with politics; do what's right for Alaska," Stevens said as he left the Senate in November 2008. He vowed to fight the conviction and was quickly successful. Five months after the conviction, Attorney General Eric Holder declined to bring new a new indictment or hold a new trial.

Theodore Fulton Stevens was born in Indianapolis on Nov. 18, 1923. His parents divorced when he was 6 years old and Stevens moved between family members before landing with an aunt and uncle in Manhattan Beach, Calif.

During World War II, Stevens flew cargo planes for the U.S. Army Air Forces on the dangerous supply route over the Himalayas known as "the Hump." He won two Distinguished Flying Crosses and two Air Medals, according to campaign biographies.

He later graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, and earned his law degree from Harvard in 1950.

Alaska politics

Stevens moved to Fairbanks in 1953 to practice law. He became federal prosecutor and later held various posts at the Department of Interior in Washington. He became known as a leading advocate for Alaska statehood, which was achieved in 1959. He returned to Alaska and won a seat in the state House of Representative in 1964.

Stevens made two unsuccessful bids for the U.S. Senate before being appointed to the seat in 1968, following the death of political ally Sen. E.L. Bartlett.

In 1978, Stevens and his wife, Ann, were traveling in Learjet landing that crashed at Anchorage Airport. Ann Stevens, a 49-year-old mother of five, was killed. The senator was one of two survivors. He later married Catherine Chandler, a lawyer and lobbyist, and had another child, Lily.

Stevens is survived by his wife, Catherine, and six children.

This report contains information from the Associated Press, McClatchy Newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Praise for Stevens

For years, Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who represents the 10th Congressional District of Florida, hammered out some of the biggest issues of the day opposite the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Ted Stevens, who died Monday in a plane crash in Alaska.

His longtime friend recalled him with great fondness as news of the death was confirmed Tuesday. "He loved his country. He was constantly doing what he could to strengthen national security interests," Young said in an interview. "He was a charger, and a good friend."

President Barack Obama: "A decorated World War II veteran, Sen. Ted Stevens devoted his career to serving the people of Alaska and fighting for our men and women in uniform. Michelle and I extend our condolences to the entire Stevens family and to the families of those who perished alongside Sen. Stevens in this terrible accident."

Former President George H.W. Bush: "Barbara and I mourn the tragic loss of Sen. Ted Stevens, a respected friend of long-standing, and send our most sincere condolences to his family. Ted Stevens loved the Senate, he loved Alaska, and he loved his family — and he will be dearly missed."

Former President George W. Bush: "Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Ted Stevens and all those aboard the airplane that crashed in Alaska last night. Ted served our country with great distinction. We send our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were lost, and we are praying for the health and well-being of the survivors."

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin: "In our land of towering mountains and larger than life characters, none were larger than the man who in 2000 was voted 'Alaskan of the Century.' This decorated World War II pilot was a warrior and a true champion of Alaska."

For years, Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who represents the 10th Congressional District of Florida, hammered out some of the biggest issues of the day opposite the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Ted Stevens, who died Monday in a plane crash in Alaska.

His longtime friend recalled him with great fondness as news of the death was confirmed Tuesday. "He loved his country. He was constantly doing what he could to strengthen national security interests," Young said in an interview. "He was a charger, and a good friend."

President Barack Obama: "A decorated World War II veteran, Sen. Ted Stevens devoted his career to serving the people of Alaska and fighting for our men and women in uniform. Michelle and I extend our condolences to the entire Stevens family and to the families of those who perished alongside Sen. Stevens in this terrible accident."

Former President George H.W. Bush: "Barbara and I mourn the tragic loss of Sen. Ted Stevens, a respected friend of long standing, and send our most sincere condolences to his family. Ted Stevens loved the Senate, he loved Alaska, and he loved his family — and he will be dearly missed."

Former President George W. Bush: "Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Ted Stevens and all those aboard the airplane that crashed in Alaska last night. Ted served our country with great distinction. We send our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were lost, and we are praying for the health and well-being of the survivors."

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin: "In our land of towering mountains and larger than life characters, none were larger than the man who in 2000 was voted 'Alaskan of the Century.' This decorated World War II pilot was a warrior and a true champion of Alaska."

biography

Theodore F. Stevens, 86

Born: Nov. 18, 1923; Indianapolis.

Experience: U.S. Senate, 1968-2008; Alaska state House, 1964-68; partner, Anchorage law practices, 1961-1968; solicitor, Interior Department, 1960; assistant to secretary, Interior Department, 1958-1959; legislative counsel, Interior Department, 1956-1957; U.S. attorney, Fairbanks, Alaska, 1953-56; attorney, Collins & Clasby, Fairbanks, 1953; attorney, Northcutt Ely, Washington, 1950-1952.

Education: Bachelor's, University of California, Los Angeles, 1947; law degree, Harvard, 1950.

Family: Wife, Catherine Chandler, and six children.

For years, Republican Rep. C.W. Bill Young, who represents the 10th Congressional District of Florida, hammered out some of the biggest issues of the day opposite the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Ted Stevens, who died Monday in a plane crash in Alaska.

His longtime friend recalled him with great fondness as news of the death was confirmed Tuesday. "He loved his country. He was constantly doing what he could to strengthen national security interests," Young said in an interview. "He was a charger, and a good friend."

President Barack Obama: "A decorated World War II veteran, Sen. Ted Stevens devoted his career to serving the people of Alaska and fighting for our men and women in uniform. Michelle and I extend our condolences to the entire Stevens family and to the families of those who perished alongside Sen. Stevens in this terrible accident."

Former President George H.W. Bush: "Barbara and I mourn the tragic loss of Sen. Ted Stevens, a respected friend of long-standing, and send our most sincere condolences to his family. Ted Stevens loved the Senate, he loved Alaska, and he loved his family — and he will be dearly missed."

Former President George W. Bush: "Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of Ted Stevens and all those aboard the airplane that crashed in Alaska last night. Ted served our country with great distinction. We send our heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were lost, and we are praying for the health and well-being of the survivors."

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin: "In our land of towering mountains and larger than life characters, none were larger than the man who in 2000 was voted 'Alaskan of the Century.' This decorated World War II pilot was a warrior and a true champion of Alaska."

Praise for Stevens 08/11/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 11, 2010 12:29am]

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Times wires.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...