Mat-Su Borough Mayor and former state legislator Curt Menard has died, a spokeswoman for the borough confirmed today.
Menard was elected mayor in 2006 and had previously served as state senator and representative for the Valley. Borough spokeswoman Patty Sullivan said that even though he'd been sick, his death came as a shock. He'd been coming into the office and working as late as last week.
"I'm stunned," she said. "He was just a great mayor."
Menard was diagnosed in 2003 with multiple myeloma, a relatively rare cancer formed by malignant plasma cells in the blood.
He underwent treatment for a year, and the cancer was in remission for about two years. But in 2007, he announced that tests discovered the cancer has returned with a tumor in his neck.
Menard took a medical leave but was working again when he died.
In addition to serving as a legislator, Menard was a former pilot and for years worked as a dentist in the Valley. He lost his right arm in 1975 to an electrical shock while he was attempting to mark power lines on a small hay field he used as a landing strip.
Afterward he trained himself to use his left hand and his prosthetic hook on his right arm and continued as a dentist until recently.
Curt was my first dentist, when we moved to the Mat-Su Valley from Prince William Sound, in 1983. His late son, Curt Menard II, was our kids' orthodontist. I loved to argue with Curt when he was in the Alaska Legislature. He was a fairly conservative Democrat, and a good listener.
photo by Patty Sullivan, Mat-Su Borough