JANE Arliss (Wright) STURGULEWSKI
• Community Service
JANE Arliss (Wright) STURGULEWSKI
Arliss Sturgulewski, beloved mother, wife, grandmother, friend and Alaskan leader, died peacefully at Providence Hospital on April 7, 2022, with her son at her side. She was 94.
She was born Jane Arliss Wright in Ferndale, Wash., on Sept. 27, 1927, a twin and one of five children of Thomas Roe Wright and Henrietta “Gretchen” Vanderlinden Wright. The family struggled during the Great Depression: her only sister died shortly before Arliss was born, there was little work in their rural community and their mother died when Arliss was 11. She grew up in the Northern Cascades logging town of Darrington, a self-described “lonely child” who buried herself in books. She was forever grateful for the grounding of her schoolteacher mother, and for teachers who urged her to pursue higher education.
Arliss’s father was an old-fashioned man who felt college for women was a waste of money, so she put herself through the University of Washington. In 1949, she graduated with a degree in economics and business, and became a bookkeeper for a Seattle cosmetics company.
In 1952, Arliss came up the Alcan Highway on vacation. She never left. She soon met Bernard “Sturge” Sturgulewski, an Army veteran and Chicago native recently graduated from the University of Alaska. They were married in 1953, and their son Bernard Roe was born in 1957. Sturge was a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In 1968, he was killed in a plane crash over Lake Iliamna. Despite family encouragement to move Outside, Arliss chose to stay in Alaska to raise her son.
In 1959, she joined the Anchorage League of Women Voters, a vibrant group active in school and government policy-making. She worked her way up the ladder of local politics, serving on the Greater Anchorage Area Planning Commission, Anchorage Charter Commission and Capital Site Selection Committee. She served on the Anchorage Assembly 1976-78.
A moderate Republican, Arliss was elected to the Alaska State Senate in 1978 and served until 1993. There, she was known for her thoughtful deliberation and working across the aisle during Alaska’s frenetic oil boom. She said her most important and challenging work was helping to inflation-proof the Alaska Permanent Fund. She was also proud of rewriting municipal code; for her legislation establishing conservation easements; and work on mental health trust lands.
Arliss became the first Alaska woman to head a major party ticket when she was the Republican candidate for governor in 1986; she ran again in 1990. She won both primary elections, but lost in the general elections.
After retiring from public office, Arliss continued to work with many organizations, especially those dealing with public policy and education. She was a charter member of the Anchorage Library Foundation, trustee for the Anchorage YMCA, a regent for Sheldon Jackson College, a member of the University of Alaska Foundation and of the Advisory Council for the UA School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Among many honors, she was granted an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from UAA and was named to the inaugural class of the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame.
Arliss enjoyed mentoring young people, especially young women. Friends describe her as a person of graciousness, wit, intelligence, determination and a selfless desire to help others. One said, “When Arliss asks ‘How are you,’ she really wants to know.” She loved traveling across Alaska with the “Roadrunners,” making friends at every village and rest stop. Most of all, she loved spending time with her family. She adored her three grandsons, attending school events, reading aloud and closely following their education and careers. Over the past two years she lived at the Anchorage Pioneer Home, where her cheery attitude won her admiration and friendship from staff and residents alike.
Arliss is survived by son, Roe and wife Carol of Anchorage; and grandsons, Ben, Ted and Hugh. She is also survived by nieces, nephews and cousins in Washington state, and by many friends who loved her as family. She was preceded in death by her husband, Sturge; her parents; twin brother, Art; brothers, Tom and Floyd; and sister, Pearl.
A memorial service is set for 6 p.m. on May 23, 2022, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Anchorage, followed by a reception at Lucy Cuddy Hall on the UAA campus. Arliss will be buried this summer with Sturge at Fort Richardson National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Anchorage Library Foundation or the Sturgulewski Family Endowment fund at UAA. Above all, they urge you to honor Arliss’s commitment to civic engagement by voting and getting involved in your community.
Written by Carol Sturgulewski
How a Single Mothers Selfless Service Touched All Alaskans Lives By Charles Wohlforth https://www.adn.com/opinions/2022/04/11/opinion-how-a-single-mothers-selfless-service-touched-all-alaskans-lives/