On behalf of CIRI’s Board of Directors and staff, I express my deepest sympathies to the families of former Sen. Ted Stevens, Bill Phillips, Terry Smith and Dana and Corey Tindall for their losses in the recent airplane crash near Dillingham. I also extend my ardent wish for the full and rapid recovery of the crash survivors, Willy Phillips, Sean and Kevin O’Keefe and Jim Morhard.
As an Alaskan I am well aware that air travel in our state entails both benefit and risk. I understand that accidents occur, but that does not reduce my sorrow when tragedy strikes.
After this accident I particularly mourn the loss of William (Bill) D. Phillips. He was a good friend and an integral member of our company’s federal legislative team since he left his position as Sen. Stevens’ chief of staff in the mid-1980s to work as a Washington, D.C. lobbyist. CIRI was among Bill’s first clients and through the years he worked with various CIRI teams to plan and execute our company’s legislative strategy, including the initiatives that enabled CIRI’s extremely successful VoiceStream telecom investments. Bill’s friendship and keen mind for business and political strategy will be missed.
Sen. Stevens left an indelible mark on our nation, our state and the lives of Alaska Native people. It will take far more time and space than I have here to pay appropriate tribute to his accomplishments and service. He played a crucial role in crafting and enacting the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act that mandated the creation of CIRI and other Alaska Native corporations. He revolutionized the structure for delivering healthcare services to Alaska Natives. CIRI’s 39-year history is intertwined with Sen. Steven’s 40-year Senate tenure in ways that provided great benefit to our company and its shareholders. For all of his hard work, I am grateful and honor Sen. Stevens’ memory.