Alaska Constitution drafter dies at age 95

By: By ANNE SUTTON, Associated Press Writer
By: By ANNE SUTTON, Associated Press Writer

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - George Sundborg Sr., a former newspaperman who helped craft the Alaska Constitution nearly 60 years ago, has died. He was 95.

He died Saturday from pneumonia at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, said his son, George Sundborg Jr. The Alaska House and Senate paused for a moment of silence Monday in his honor.

"Alaska has lost a true visionary and respected leader," Gov. Sarah Palin said. "We will be forever grateful for Mr. Sundborg's guidance in creating a document that is regarded as one of the finest constitutions in the United States."

Sundborg was one of 55 delegates who gathered for 75 days in the basement of the University of Alaska Fairbanks student union in 1955 to craft a constitution for Alaska.

Alaskans had been battling for statehood rights for decades, and some believed a constitution would signal Congress that they were ready to take up their own governance.

The delegates came from all walks of life and Sundborg, a bespectacled former newspaperman, was put in charge of the Committee on Style and Drafting.

"He was one of the most active and constructive of the 55 delegates," said former state Sen. Vic Fisher, a fellow delegate. "He played a key role in making the constitution what it is today in terms of the style, the precise language, the concise statements and the structure."

Sundborg had moved to Alaska from Seattle as a news reporter and served as editor of the Daily Alaska Empire in Juneau and the Fairbanks Daily News Miner.

He also was the administrative assistant for U.S. Sen. Ernest Gruening, D-Alaska., one of the new state's two first U.S. senators.

Following Gruening's defeat in 1969, Sundborg worked at the Department of Interior in Washington, D.C., and returned to Seattle in 1971 where he was awarded a Department of Interior commendation for assistance in the formation of Discovery Park.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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