Howard Pollock, former Alaska congressman and a key political player in the early years of statehood, died Sunday in Coronado, Calif. He was 90.
In 1966, in an upset victory, he became Alaska's sole member of the U.S. House of Representatives by beating incumbent Ralph Rivers, who had held the office since statehood almost eight years earlier. He was handily re-elected in 1968 over challenger Nick Begich. Among his congressional achievements was laying the groundwork for legislation that would settle Alaska Native land claims.
In 1962 he had unsuccessfully sought to wrest the Republican nomination for governor from the popular territorial Gov. Mike Stepovich. In 1970, he left Congress to try again, but the nomination went to incumbent Keith Miller. William Egan, the Democratic candidate, won both of those elections.
Following his time in Congress, President Nixon appointed Pollack as deputy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He also served 12 years as a member of the U.S. delegation to the Law of the Sea Conference.
Pollock was born in Chicago, April 11, 1920, to Oscar and Olga Pollock. He was raised in New Orleans.
When World War II broke out, he enlisted as a Navy seaman and rose to the rank of lieutenant commander. He was nearly killed by a grenade and lost his right arm.
In 1948, he drove up the Alaska Highway with his wife, Maryanne, whom he had married during the war. They homesteaded in the Rabbit Creek area, leaving Alaska briefly in 1952 so that Pollock could attend law school.
Two months into his courses he was elected to the Alaska Territorial Legislature and returned to Alaska to serve his term in Juneau. Juggling politics, work and education, he managed to get his law degree from the University of Houston in Texas in 1955 and, later, a master's degree in industrial management from MIT.
He established a law practice in Anchorage and was elected to the state Senate as a Republican in 1960 and 1964.
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