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By J. P. Tangen
For Mining News 

Alaska's miners lose a valued friend

David Stone was a leader and an icon for the mining industry in modern Alaska who studied the past and ably worked for the future

 

Last updated 12/30/2012 at Noon



There are those who walk among us who move the earth with a simple smile. One such being was the late David Stone, whose untimely passing on Nov. 20, 2012 leaves us with a hole in our hearts.

Although David was not born here - he moved to Alaska in his early teens - he was an Alaskan through and through. He loved Juneau and the historic mines that had ceased production nearly three decades before his arrival. He loved to explore the tunnels and chambers of the not-quite-sealed AJ Mine; he loved to talk about mining; he loved to write about mining; and he loved to advocate for the future of mining in Alaska.

That is not to suggest that David was a single dimensional character. Quite the contrary, as Deputy Commissioner of Labor he took on mine worker training as a responsibility. As a member of the Juneau Assembly, he was an advocate for development of the historic mines of Juneau. As a past-president of the Alaska Miners Association, he was the titular spokesman for the industry for two years. As a contributing author and presenter at Alaska Mining Hall of Fame events, generally held in conjunction with Alaska Mining Association Conventions, he brought to life the stories of the men of another era who moiled (and panned) for gold.

David also was a devout Christian and a devoted family man and in exchange for these positive qualities, his church and his family have done him proud. At the Memorial Service held in Juneau earlier this month, the celebration of his life was truly touching and its poignancy was capped by the eulogy delivered by his war hero son, Brandon, a member of SEAL Team 6.

As a politician, David was unique. According to the story shared by one of the eulogists, when his advisors counseled him to raise money for a campaign for re-election to the Juneau Assembly, he did so. Because no one mentioned to him that he had to actually spend the money, at the conclusion of his successful campaign, he was able to make a substantial charitable contribution of the unspent funds.

My personal relationship with David dates back to the late seventies when, as a young lawyer, I first became active in the Alaska Miners Association. I learned that David had co-authored a book called, "Hard Rock Gold," detailing the history of mining in the Juneau Goldbelt for the Juneau Centennial, but that it was out of print. The Juneau Centennial Committee had funded the publication and retained the copyright, but there was little interest in publishing a second edition. Working together we secured the copyright and republished. This minor service resulted in a lifetime of friendship, and David rarely failed to mention it whenever we were together at a social gathering.

I don't know that it was the case, but I suspect that he treated virtually all his friends the same way - never forgetting the most modest acts of friendship.

As with so many Alaskans, David's passing is the literal equivalent of turning a page in history. In a state as small, population-wise, as Alaska, everyone has the chance to make his or her mark on the community and the state. David Stone will be long remembered for the mark he has made.

 

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