Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - Former Lt. Gov. John Bruce “Jack” Coghill passed away this morning at the age of 93 of natural causes.
“Dad was a firm believer in utilizing Alaska’s natural resources to build a strong economy and provide good paying jobs for Alaska,” said son Senator John Coghill. “He had the same passion for Alaska, even at 93.”
Jack Coghill was born in Fairbanks in 1925 and raised in Nenana with his two older brothers. He got an early education in business when his father, a Scotch immigrant, started a trading post in Nenana in 1912. Jack graduated from Nenana High School and was a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Alaska Command in the Aleutians in World War II.
A true entrepreneur, Jack and his wife, Frances, owned and operated a movie theater, a roadhouse, and a fuel distribution company selling fuel products to villages and towns through Interior Alaska.
Jack has said the most important thing in his life is his marriage to Frances and raising their six kids. Next to that, he has said his greatest achievement was participating in the Alaska Constitutional Convention.
Jack first entered politics in 1948 when he was elected to the Nenana School Board. He went on to serve as a territorial representative and a delegate to the constitutional convention. He also was elected to both the Alaska State House and Alaska State Senate, was a special assistant to the governor in 1967, served four years on the North Commission, served as mayor of Nenana for 22 years, and was elected Lt. Governor in 1990. He ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 1994.
As Lieutenant Governor, Jack championed identifying RS 2477 Right-of-Ways. With Mike Dalton as his special assistant, they identified 1,340 trails, had 900 trails they established to assert and asserted 11 trails. DNR continues the process of asserting those trails.
Jack returned to Nenana in 2004 after Frances passed away and was elected to the city council. That same year he received an honorary doctrine from the University of Alaska. In 2006 he received the Junior Achievement of Alaska’s Business Hall of Fame Laureate.
Jack had moved back to North Pole because of failing health and had been living comfortably at his son’s home. He was still a partner in the family store in Nenana at the time of his death.