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February 16, 2016
Alaska Loses a Valued Family Member
I am deeply saddened to report that on Sunday morning my friend, Representative Max Gruenberg, House minority Whip and the longest serving legislator in the Alaska House of Representatives, passed away unexpectedly.
With Max's passing, we lost a family member and a mentor who legislators sought out for support and advice regardless of what party they belonged to. He was the guardian of a dying flame, keeping the spirit of a younger Alaska alive by always putting the needs of the Alaskan people before political gamesmanship.
Max served in the legislature from 1985-1993 during which time he served two terms as House Majority Leader, and again from 2003 until his recent death. He was born and raised in San Francisco, having risen to the rank of Eagle Scout as a youth. He later served in the U.S. Navy during the Viet Nam War where his unit received the Meritorious Unit Commendation, and he received the Viet Nam Service Medal with three battle stars.
After graduating from Stanford University and receiving a Juris Doctorate from UCLA Law School in 1970, he moved to Alaska where he became a partner in the Gruenberg, Clover & Holland law firm and served on numerous volunteer organizations before being elected to the Alaska Legislature.
His many legislative accomplishments include passing the Silver Alert law to locate missing adults, securing funding to rebuild neighborhood fire stations, strengthening arson laws, and working to protect vulnerable people and animals from domestic abuse.
Perhaps Max’s greatest strength as a legislator was his great legal mind and his commitment to making sure every piece of legislation that came before him was thoroughly reviewed and drafted to be free of unintended consequences. He was a constant reminder that the decisions made by the legislature can have powerful impacts on everyday people, often affecting their homes, livelihood, or even their very freedom. He would work late into the night making sure any bill, regardless of the sponsor, was good policy and fair to Alaskans.
We need Max now more than ever as we face hard times which will require us to work together and put politics aside to save the state from economic collapse. Though we have lost him in body, his spirit will remain with us forever, and will guide us and give us strength as we face the times ahead.
May he rest in peace.
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