Hickel first became governor, as a Republican, in 1966 and, to hear him tell it, had a vision of an "ocean of oil" at the site that became the Prudhoe Bay oil field. Two year later Richard Nixon named Hickel U.S. Secretary of the Interior, then ended up firing him after Hickel told Nixon he was wrong on Vietnam. Twenty years later, he was elected to a second term as governor, this time on the Alaskan Independence Party ticket after he jumped into the race late in the campaign.Video here.
Wally supported Sarah Palin in her run for Governor. He later had a bitter split with her over the gasline issue.
While he and Palin may have had strong differences in the end, Wally truly shaped the face of Alaska politics for decades, and I was fond of the old guy.
Governor Sean Parnell issued the following statement:
"Governor Hickel was a visionary who loved this great state," Parnell said. "He taught us to dream big and to stand up for Alaska. Governor Hickel will be remembered for many things—for his wit, for telling it like it is, and for always reminding us that our resources belong to Alaskans.RIP.
Sandy and I extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to Governor Hickel's family, friends, and colleagues. Alaska, and, indeed our nation, has lost a great one."