Davis broke color barrier in Legislature

Bettye Davis stands among school officials and community members gathered for the Girdwood K-8 dedication and open house ceremony in Girdwood, Alaska. Photo courtesy of Anchorage School District

Former Alaska lawmaker Bettye Davis, who passed away in Anchorage this past week at the age of 80, is remembered by many as a champion for Alaska’s children, and a long-time member of the Anchorage School Board.

Davis resigned in September from her third term on the school board, due to health issues.

“Bettye Davis was an Alaskan trailblazer,” said Gov. Mike Dunleavy, himself a former educator. “She will always be remembered for her steadfast dedication and determination to help children and improve Alaska’s public education system.

“Bettye Davis’s impact on public education in Alaska is almost incalculable,” said Rep. Harriet Drummond, D-Anchorage, and the current chair of the House Education Commission. “For over 35 years she fought for better schools and more opportunities for thousands upon thousands of students.”

Rep. Les Gara, D-Anchorage, who co-authored several pieces of children’s legislation with Davis, remembered her as “a passionate champion for children and a friend. We worked together on bills to give children a real chance in this world,” Gara said. “Alaska has lost someone who stood tall for others.”

House Majority Leader Rep. Chris Tuck D-Anchorage, said Davis was often referred to as the conscience of the Legislature “because she understood more than most the responsibilities that come with making daily decisions that impact the lives of every Alaskan.”


State flags are to be flown at half-staff in honor of Davis on Dec. 31, following the end of flags being flown at half-staff for former President George H.W. Bush, who passed away on Nov. 30.