Alaska Native leader Byron Mallott, who served as the state's lieutenant governor as part of a “unity ticket” with Gov. Bill Walker, has died.
Mallott had a heart attack Thursday night in Juneau and was flown on a medical charter to Anchorage, where he passed away Friday morning, the Anchorage Daily News reported. He was 77.
Walker called Mallott's death a “huge shock" and said the two maintained a relationship since leaving office in 2018. He said his last communication with Mallott was about 10 days ago.
Mallott resigned shortly before the 2018 election for what Walker described as an inappropriate overture to a woman.
Mallott grew up in the village of Yakutat in northern Southeast Alaska. Over a 55-year career, he rose to positions of statewide leadership in business, politics and community service.
They included president of Sealaska, an Alaska Native corporation, and director of the state-owned corporation that runs Alaska's Permanent Fund. Mallott's son, Anthony Mallott, is Sealaska's current CEO.
Byron Mallott got his start in public life at age 22, when he was elected mayor of his home village of Yakutat, in Southeast Alaska. He was clan leader for the Kwaash Ké Kwaan.
Walker and Mallott made a political splash in 2014 when Walker changed his party affiliation from Republican and was elected as an independent with Democratic support as part of a so-called unity ticket, with Mallott, a Democrat and an Alaska Native leader, as his lieutenant governor.
Among other honors, Mallott was recognized by the Alaska Federation of Natives as “Citizen of the Year” and received an honorary doctorate in humanities from the University of Alaska.
He was married for many decades to Antoinette, a retired schoolteacher. They have five children.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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