Fmr. Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott passes away at 77

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, left, and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott laugh at an outdoors news conference...
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, left, and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott laugh at an outdoors news conference in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, after the two men submitted signatures to get their ticket on the November general election ballot. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)(KTUU)
Published: May. 8, 2020 at 1:37 PM AKDT
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Fmr. Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott has died at the age of 77.

"It will be an incredible adjustment not to have him there," said Fmr. Gov. Bill Walker, under whom Mallott served for several years. "I'm a very different person because of my time with Byron Mallott. He truly had a heart for Alaska."

Walker said Mallott, who was well-known for his support of the Alaska Native community, was passionate about justice, equality, and public safety, no matter where the missions were located in the state.

"He was doing everything possible to make sure Alaskans felt safe, regardless of where they lived," Walker said, who added that Mallott always spoke from the heart and hardly ever read a speech.

Though Walker and Mallott initially chased down reelection in 2018, the latter eventually resigned over what were unclear circumstances shortly before the election that year. Since then, however, Walker said he has kept in touch with Mallott, having last spoken with him just last week.

"It was deeply-rooted," Walker said of their relationship. "It was an incredible honor to have had the time with Byron as I did. It's something I will never forget.

"We had a very unique relationship," he continued. "His family, our family, became one. I will miss him dearly."

Richard Peterson, who serves as president of the Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, said Friday that Mallott appeared to have suffered some type of heart episode overnight.

"It is a shock, honestly," Peterson said. "Byron was a really good friend and mentor, an icon, I think in our community. A loss of this magnitude - we're trying to grasp what that even means."

Condolences poured out on social media Friday, with people across the state expressing their sadness over the news of Mallott's passing.

Those both within the state's political system and outside of it posted notes of grief but also of gratefulness for Mallott's contributions to communities around the state. Rep. Bryce Edgmon, (I) Dillingham, for example, said Mallott "was a strong leader in the Alaska Native community for many years," contributing greatly to major accomplishments that affected so many in the state, and added that Mallott's family is in his thoughts and prayers.

Mallott is survived by his family, including his wife, several children and grandchildren.

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