Walter Joseph Hickel
Walter Joseph "Wally" Hickel (August 18, 1919May 7, 2010) was an industrialist, focused mostly on construction and real estate development, and a politician
A politician, political leader, or political figure is an individual who is involved in influencing public policy and decision making...

 of the Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 and Alaskan Independence
Alaskan Independence Party
The Alaskan Independence Party is a political party in the U.S. state of Alaska that advocates an in-state referendum which includes the option of Alaska becoming an independent country...

Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

 from the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

. Hickel served as the second and eighth Governor of Alaska. His first term as governor was from 1966 to 1969, and ended with his resignation upon his confirmation in the position of United States Secretary of the Interior
United States Secretary of the Interior
The United States Secretary of the Interior is the head of the United States Department of the Interior.The US Department of the Interior should not be confused with the concept of Ministries of the Interior as used in other countries...

 in the Cabinet of President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

. He later served a complete term as governor from 1990 to 1994.

Early life and career

Born in Ellinwood, Kansas
Ellinwood, Kansas
Ellinwood is a city in the southeast corner of Barton County, Kansas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 2,131.-History:...

, Hickel relocated to Alaska in 1940, going into the local real estate industry. By 1947, Hickel had formed a successful construction company. While some fellow Republicans in the Alaska Territory
Alaska Territory
The Territory of Alaska was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from August 24, 1912, until January 3, 1959, when it was admitted to the Union as the State of Alaska...

 opposed statehood, Hickel joined Democrats in calls for joining the Union during the late 1940s and into the 1950s. Using his growing popularity among Alaskan Republicans and growing political clout in Washington
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, Hickel was able to travel to the nation's capital to engage in talks with key Republicans in both the U.S. Congress and within the Eisenhower Administration to speak about Alaskan statehood. Thanks in part to his efforts, Hickel's debates with Congressional leaders led to enough initially hesitant Republicans voting in favor of the Alaska Statehood Act
Alaska Statehood Act
The Alaska Statehood Act was signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on July 7, 1958, allowing Alaska to become the 49th U.S. state on January 3, 1959.-History: the road to Statehood:...

 in 1958.

Political career

First governorship

Hickel was elected as Alaska's second governor in the 1966 state general elections, defeating his Democratic rival and incumbent governor William A. Egan. Hickel's first governorship, the second in the young state's history as well as Alaska's first Republican governorship, oversaw the discovery of oilfields at Prudhoe Bay
Prudhoe Bay, Alaska
Prudhoe Bay or Sagavanirktok is a census-designated place located in North Slope Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. As of the 2010 census, the population of the CDP was 2,174 people; however, at any given time several thousand transient workers support the Prudhoe Bay oil field...

 in 1968, a factor that would prove politically decisive in later years. Hickel, a moderate Republican and environmentalist, did not push for heavy oil exploitation. In 1968, Hickel appointed Ted Stevens
Ted Stevens
Theodore Fulton "Ted" Stevens, Sr. was a United States Senator from Alaska, serving from December 24, 1968, until January 3, 2009, and thus the longest-serving Republican senator in history...

 to the United States Senate to replace the recently deceased Bob Bartlett
Bob Bartlett
Edward Lewis "Bob" Bartlett was an American politician and a member of the Democratic Party.Bartlett was born in Seattle, Washington. After graduating from the University of Alaska in 1925, Bartlett began his career in politics...


Like his predecessor Egan, Hickel sought to improve relations with Alaskan Natives
Alaska Natives
Alaska Natives are the indigenous peoples of Alaska. They include: Aleut, Inuit, Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Eyak, and a number of Northern Athabaskan cultures.-History:In 1912 the Alaska Native Brotherhood was founded...

 in seeking resolutions on Native land claims.

Interior Secretary

Richard Nixon's election as U.S. President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 in late 1968 led to an offer to Hickel from the President-elect to serve in the United States Cabinet
United States Cabinet
The Cabinet of the United States is composed of the most senior appointed officers of the executive branch of the federal government of the United States, which are generally the heads of the federal executive departments...

 as Interior Secretary. Initially, Hickel declined the cabinet offer. Nixon replied that his decision was final. Hickel would recall years later that he cried afterward, and announced he would be resigning from the governorship to go to Washington.

Hickel's nomination was met with what Hickel later wrote was a newspaper "smear" campaign of false and "crazy accusations" that he had a corrupt and anti-environmentalist record as governor. Opposition to his nomination was led by influential columnists Drew Pearson
Drew Pearson (journalist)
Andrew Russell Pearson , known professionally as Drew Pearson, was one of the best-known American columnists of his day, noted for his muckraking syndicated newspaper column "Washington Merry-Go-Round," in which he attacked various public persons, sometimes with little or no objective proof for his...

 and Jack Anderson. Newspapers opposing his nomination included the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. In the Senate, his confirmation was opposed by, among others, Democratic senators Walter Mondale
Walter Mondale
Walter Frederick "Fritz" Mondale is an American Democratic Party politician, who served as the 42nd Vice President of the United States , under President Jimmy Carter, and as a United States Senator for Minnesota...

 and George McGovern
George McGovern
George Stanley McGovern is an historian, author, and former U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, and the Democratic Party nominee in the 1972 presidential election....

. Sierra Club
Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892, in San Francisco, California, by the conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president...

 director David Brower testified in opposition to Hickel. The Senate nevertheless confirmed his nomination on 23 January 1969.

Upon becoming the federal Secretary of the Interior
United States Secretary of the Interior
The United States Secretary of the Interior is the head of the United States Department of the Interior.The US Department of the Interior should not be confused with the concept of Ministries of the Interior as used in other countries...

, Hickel proved to be a strong environmentalist, supporting liberal legislation that put liabilities on oil companies operating offshore oil rigs, as well as demanding environmental safeguards on Alaska's growing oil industry.

Hickel's centrist-liberal voice inside the Nixon Administration eventually led to confrontations with the President. In 1970 following the shooting of college students
Kent State shootings
The Kent State shootings—also known as the May 4 massacre or the Kent State massacre—occurred at Kent State University in the city of Kent, Ohio, and involved the shooting of unarmed college students by members of the Ohio National Guard on Monday, May 4, 1970...

 at Kent State University
Kent State University
Kent State University is a public research university located in Kent, Ohio, United States. The university has eight campuses around the northeast Ohio region with the main campus in Kent being the largest...

 by the Ohio National Guard
Ohio National Guard
The Ohio National Guard comprises:* Ohio Army National Guard* Ohio Air National Guard-External links:* compiled by the United States Army Center of Military History...

, Hickel wrote a letter critical of Nixon's Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 policy and urging him to give more respect to the views of young people critical of the war, writing in part, "I believe this administration finds itself today embracing a philosophy which appears to lack appropriate concern for the attitude of a great mass of Americans – our young people." This dissent garnered worldwide media attention, and on November 25, 1970, Hickel was fired over the letter. Days before he lost the office, Hickel had told CBS
CBS Broadcasting Inc. is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network. The name is derived from the initials of the network's former name, Columbia Broadcasting System. The network is sometimes referred to as the "Eye Network" in reference to the shape of...

' 60 Minutes
60 Minutes
60 Minutes is an American television news magazine, which has run on CBS since 1968. The program was created by producer Don Hewitt who set it apart by using a unique style of reporter-centered investigation....

that he would not quit under pressure, saying he would only go away "with an arrow in my heart, not a bullet in my back."

Second governorship

A blanket primary
Blanket primary
The blanket primary is a system used for selecting political party candidates in a primary election in the USA. In a blanket primary, voters may pick one candidate for each office without regard to party lines; for instance, a voter might select a Democratic candidate for governor and a Republican...

 held on August 28, 1990 resulted in Arliss Sturgulewski
Arliss Sturgulewski
Jane Arliss Sturgulewski is a retired businesswoman and Republican politician from the U.S. state of Alaska. In a political career in which she started appearing in the spotlight in 1975, she represented Anchorage in the Alaska Senate from 1979 to 1993...

, a member of the Alaska Senate
Alaska Senate
The Alaska Senate is the upper house in the Alaska Legislature, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Alaska. The Senate consists of twenty members, each of whom represents an equal amount of districts with populations of about 31,347 people . Senators serve four-year terms, without term...

 from Anchorage since 1979, being elected as the Republican nominee for governor of Alaska. Winning the Democratic nomination was Tony Knowles
Tony Knowles (politician)
Anthony Carroll Knowles is an American Democratic politician and businessman who served as the seventh Governor of Alaska from December 1994 to December 2002. Barred from seeking a third consecutive term as governor in 2002, he ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2004 and again for governor in...

, the immediate past mayor of Anchorage.

The Republicans elected as their nominee for lieutenant governor Jack Coghill
Jack Coghill
John Bruce "Jack" Coghill was the eighth lieutenant governor of Alaska, serving from 1990 to 1994 under Governor Walter Hickel. Both were members of the Alaskan Independence Party...

, a fellow state senator from Nenana
Nenana, Alaska
Nenana is a Home Rule City in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area of the Unorganized Borough of the U.S. state of Alaska. Nenana lies at the juncture of the Nenana River and the Tanana River. The population was 402 at the 2000 census. "Nenana" means 'a good place to camp between two rivers.'-History...

. Coghill had held elected office continuously since 1957, with the exception of relinquishing the mayorship of Nenana for approximately two years when the 1967 flood forced him to temporarily move out of city limits. Coghill had also briefly worked as a special assistant to Hickel during his first governorship.

Sturgulewski, who won the Republican nomination for the second consecutive time against mostly conservative opposition, was criticized by many Republicans for her positions on issues such as abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 and capital punishment
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

. Following a contentious meeting between Sturgulewski and prominent conservative Republicans held in the home of David Cuddy
David Cuddy
David Warren Cuddy is a businessman andRepublican Party politician from the U.S. state of Alaska.Dave Cuddy was born in Anchorage, Alaska, where he has spent most of his life. He was named after his uncle, who died in World War II in 1944. He graduated from West Anchorage High School in 1970,...

, Coghill felt that it was impossible to continue to run on the ticket with Sturgulewski. After Coghill met first with Hickel and then with Edgar Paul Boyko
Edgar Paul Boyko
Edgar Paul Boyko was an Alaskan attorney. He served as Attorney General for the State of Alaska under the administration of Governor Walter Hickel from 1967 to 1968.-Biography:...

, the idea was hatched to run a slate
Slate (elections)
A slate is a group of candidates that run in multi-seat or multi-position elections on a common platform.The common platform may be because the candidates are all members of a political party, have the same or similar policies, or some other reason....

 of Hickel and Coghill under the Alaskan Independence Party
Alaskan Independence Party
The Alaskan Independence Party is a political party in the U.S. state of Alaska that advocates an in-state referendum which includes the option of Alaska becoming an independent country...

 banner. AIP chairman Joe Vogler
Joe Vogler
Joseph E. "Joe" Vogler was the founder of the Alaskan Independence Party, and either its chair or gubernatorial nominee for most of its first two decades of existence...

 was brought from Fairbanks to Anchorage immediately prior to the deadline for political parties to substitute their nominees.

John Lindauer
John Howard Lindauer
John Howard Lindauer II served as Chancellor for the University of Alaska Anchorage from 1976 to 1978 then was Dean of the School of Business and Public Affairs. He was the Republican Party candidate for governor of Alaska in 1998...

 and Jerry Ward, who had been elected in the primary as the AIP ticket (and would eight years later also be elected in another blanket primary as the Republican Party's nominees for governor and lieutenant governor), stepped aside, largely alluding to the illness of Lindauer's wife as the reason. Hickel and Coghill prevailed in the general election.

Although he had common ground with the Alaska Independence Party in fighting restrictions on land use imposed by federal environmentalism
Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

, Hickel had been one of the most influential historical proponents of Alaska statehood and never endorsed the AIP's secession
Secession is the act of withdrawing from an organization, union, or especially a political entity. Threats of secession also can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.-Secession theory:...

ism, prompting some party faithful to petition for his recall
Recall election
A recall election is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before his or her term has ended...

. He rejoined the Republican Party in April 1994, near the tail end of his term.

Since 1994

In 2006 he supported Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

 in her bid to become governor of Alaska; however, in 2009, he stated that he didn't "give a damn what she does".

In 2008, he called for the resignation of U.S. Senator Ted Stevens
Ted Stevens
Theodore Fulton "Ted" Stevens, Sr. was a United States Senator from Alaska, serving from December 24, 1968, until January 3, 2009, and thus the longest-serving Republican senator in history...

, whom he appointed to the Senate in 1968, in light of his indictment related to the alleged receipt of improper gifts from the VECO Corporation, an Alaskan construction company that works on the Alaska Pipeline. (Stevens' conviction was later expunged after he was cleared by a federal judge over the issue of prosecutorial misconduct.)

Hickel died on May 7, 2010 in Anchorage, Alaska. In keeping with his often-stated wish, he was buried standing up.

Business career

Hickel was also a real estate developer and chairman of Hickel Investment Company. Most of his ventures from the 1950s onward were in building and operating hotels and shopping centers. Hickel's company built the structures in which Safeway
Safeway Inc.
Safeway Inc. , a Fortune 500 company, is North America's second largest supermarket chain after The Kroger Co., with, as of December 2010, 1,694 stores located throughout the western and central United States and western Canada. It also operates some stores in the Mid-Atlantic region of the Eastern...

 placed most of its earliest Alaska stores.

Following the 1964 Alaska earthquake, Hickel, as a show of confidence in Anchorage's future, built a high-rise luxury hotel on the western side of downtown Anchorage, very near one of the largest of the landslides which befell portions of Anchorage. Hickel chose the site to prove wrong detractors who believed that the area couldn't be redeveloped to a great extent. The nine-story Hotel Captain Cook opened in 1965 on Fourth Avenue, next door to the historic Wendler Building
National Register of Historic Places listings in Anchorage, Alaska
This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Anchorage, Alaska.This is intended to be a complete list of the properties and districts on the National Register of Historic Places in Anchorage, Alaska, United States...

. A fifteen-story tower followed in 1972, and an eighteen-story tower in 1978. The hotel currently covers almost an entire city block
City block
A city block, urban block or simply block is a central element of urban planning and urban design. A city block is the smallest area that is surrounded by streets. City blocks are the space for buildings within the street pattern of a city, they form the basic unit of a city's urban fabric...

, with a connected parking garage covering another half-block.

External links

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