Donald Edwin Young born on 9 June 1933 was an American politician and educator who served as the U.S. representative for Alaska’s at-large congressional district from 1973 until his death. He was the Republican Party’s longest-serving member of the House of Representatives and of congress, having represented Alaska for 49 years.
Young was one of the longest-serving members of Congress of any party, as well as the last remaining member who had been in office since the Nixon Administration; he became the 45th dean of the House of Representatives on December 5, 2017, when John Conyers retired.
Young first won his seat in the 1973 special election following U.S. Representative Nick Begich’s disappearance in a plane crash. He had earlier administered as mayor of Fort Yukon from 1964 to 1967, a member of the Alaska House of Representatives from 1967 to 1971, and in the Alaska Senate from 1971 to 1973.
U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, the longest-serving member of the House, died Friday night at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport after reaching on a flight from Los Angeles International Airport on his way home. He was 88 years old.
The cause of death has not been determined yet.
Young was a California resident who had served in Congress since gaining a victory in a special election in 1973.”It’s with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we announce Congressman Don Young, the Dean of the House and revered champion for Alaska, passed away today while travelling home to Alaska to be with the state and people that he loved,” a statement from Young’s office said. “His beloved wife Ann was by his side.” Young was presently serving out his 25th term and was going on for a 26th.
Young’s office said they “will be sharing more details about plans for a celebration of his life and legacy” in the future.
“He was vibrant, he had a lot of energy, he’s very clear of mind, spoke clearly about what he wanted to accomplish, set goals that he wanted to make happen, and was happy to be running,” said Jack Ferguson, a lobbyist who served as Young’s chief of crew, according to Anchorage Daily News.
Chief of the House
Young won a special election to succeed the late Rep. Nick Begich, D-Alaska, the father of former Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska. The elder Begich died in a plane crash that also killed House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, D-La., the father of late journalist Cokie Roberts.
He was the chief of the House, the most senior member of either party, and he was the last active House member who was elected in the 1970s.
Conflict with Boehner
Young also assisted as a tugboat captain and trapper. He famously wielded the pubic bone of a walrus on the House floor during debate once. Young also put a knife and held it against the throat of former U.S. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, before Boehner became an orator.
In 2014, a statement from the House Ethics Committee found Young to have infringed House rules by improperly using movement funds to pay for 15 personal hunting trips that took place between 2001 and 2013. The congressman was required to pay back more than $59,000 in campaign funds that covered the cost of gifts he obtained and the majority, if not all, of the expenses attributed with the hunting outings.