Bettye Davis, former Alaska legislator and ASD board member, dies at 80

Published: Dec. 3, 2018 at 4:08 PM AKST
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The Anchorage School District has confirmed that former school board member, and long-time public servant, Bettye Davis, has passed away at the age of 80.

The Anchorage School District wrote in a tweet:

"Bettye Davis will be remembered as an honorable and respected Anchorage School Board Member and as the incredible woman she was. Her work for Alaska's education system has increased student achievement and has benefited Alaska tremendously. Our condolences go to Bettye's family."

Davis began her career working at the Alaska Psychiatric Institute as a nurse and social worker from 1972 to 1975. She retired in 1986.

She went on to serve on the Anchorage School Board for more than 11 years, as well as serving two years on the State Board of Education where she served as both President and Vice President.

She resigned from her third term on the school board in September, due to health reasons and to spend more time with her family.

In addition to her time within the education field, Davis also served in the state House from 1991-1996 and state Senate from 2001-2012. She became the first African-American woman to be elected to the Alaska House and Senate.

The Alaska House Majority Coalition released a statement saying Davis is "remembered as a champion for Alaska's children."

“Bettye Davis’s impact on public education in Alaska is almost incalculable. For over 35 years she fought for better schools and more opportunities for thousands upon thousands of students. Bettye was my friend and colleague on the Anchorage School Board and in the legislature, but she was more than that, she was a shining example of the best of politics, and I will try every day to live up to her example,” said current House Education Committee Chair Rep. Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage).

Davis was born in Homer, Louisiana, and moved to Anchorage in the early 1970s.