Former President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate and longtime Senator from Alaska, Ted Stevens was killed recently, along with four others, in a plane crash. Among the survivors of the plane crash are former NASA head Sean O'Keefe and O'keefe's son.
According to published reports, the party on the plane were flying to a fishing camp when something went tragically wrong. Such trips are typical this time of year in Alaska. Various published reports have included information about hard the rescue of the survivors was.
Ted Stevens was Alaska's and the Republican Party's longest serving Senator. South Carolina's Strom Thurmond served longer than Stevens, but not as a Republican.
Stevens was touted as "Mr. Alaska," but was not without controversy. Stevens was convicted of ethics charges and afterward lost a close election to self professed conservative Democrat Mark Begich, then the Mayor of Anchorage in November of 2008, bringing a close to forty years of service in the United States Senate by Mr. Stevens. In 2009, Stevens's conviction was set aside.
Despite that loss, Stevens remained a popular figure in Alaska. Though in his mid eighties, Stevens remained active and engaged. Indeed there is something to be said for dying in an Alaskan plane crash at age 86 on an outdoor adventure.
That said, there are other ironies that abound in this story that are unique to Alaska. Senator Begich, among the first to praise the service of Stevens upon the news of his death, lost his own father, a member of Congress, to a plane crash in Alaska some years ago. Further, Stevens survived a plane crash decades ago in Alaska that killed his wife.
That is the harsh nature of our 50th state. It's unforgiving nature is as notable as its natural resources and beauty. Thus, Alaska delivered an ironic, yet fitting end to the life of the man who perhaps served it longer and better than any other. May God be with the Stevens family and the families of the other victims of the crash.