Sunday, July 5, 2009

H. A. "Red" Boucher - Remembering Red

--- by Dennis Harris

I'm surprised that former Lieutenant Governor H. A. "Red" Boucher's passing had little mention in Alaska political blogs, because he was a pioneer progressive pro-labor Democrat in public office in Alaska.

It was Red who first got me involved in Democratic Party politics when he recruited me in the summer of 1969 for his 1970 campaign for Lieutenant Governor. I was working at the front desk of the Baranof Hotel, and Red persuaded me to give him a lift to the airport in my beater VW bug at the end of my shift.

I already knew of his history as manager of the Goldpanners and Mayor of Fairbanks during the 1967 floods, and by the time we got to the airport I was a committed Boucher campaign worker, won over by his enthusiasm and positive outlook.

I had been soured on Democratic politics by the Vietnam war and Humphrey's losing 1968 campaign against Nixon, but Red got me involved in politics on the local level. He convinced me that if I wanted the party to change, I needed to work for change at the local level, though I'm sure that he was shocked by the 1972 Ad Hoc Young Democrats takeover of the Party by organizing before the precinct caucuses to ensure that we would send a pro-McGovern anti-war delegation to the district, State, and national conventions.

Unlike many of his contemporary Party regulars, including Egan cronies like Alec Miller and Felix Toner, Red supported the activism of young people, an attitude that continued throughout his life.

My fondest memory of this period was his admonition to me to bet heavily on the Mets in the 1969 World Series, because he had nurtured Tom Seaver's pitching with the Goldpanners, and he knew that Seaver had what it took to pitch a winning Series game. The Baltimore Orioles were a heavy favorite, but Red told me to bet that the Mets would win in 5 games. I did, and won big --- $25 in bets won me over $500 and a steak dinner, and I won the office pool on points, too.

Connecting Alaskans, rural and urban, was his passion. He was always helping his many friends around the state share their concerns and interests with each other. Red was an early advocate of personal computers and online communication, something that surprised me at first, until I realized that for him, computers were a tool to help connect Alaskans to each other.

Red stayed positive, even after a stroke several years ago limited his activities. He still called and emailed his many friends to congratulate them on accomplishments and encourage them when they faced adversity.

Alaskans have lost a great friend, advocate, and visionary.

image - courtesy of the Fairbanks Goldpanners


Lazarhat said...

Thank you for doing this, Phil. Even though I didn't know him personally, I could tell that Red was a true Alaskan and loved him for his love of baseball and all things computer nerdy. Thank you for your tribute to a great Alaskan who will be missed.


Philip Munger said...


I just published my friend Dennis' remembrance. I didn't write it. My memories of Red are less important than his.

Lazarhat said...

Then thanks to both of you!