Vic Fischer, the last surviving signer of the Alaska constitution and a former senator in the Alaska Legislature, died this week at age 99.
Fischer, a World War II veteran who grew up in Berlin and Moscow, needed the personal intervention of Eleanor Roosevelt to leave Russia with his family.
As Alaska writer and author Charles Wohlforth, who wrote a book with Fischer titled “To Russia With Love: An Alaskan’s Journey,” told Anchorage’s KTUU:
“He speaks no English, the year is 1939. In a few years, he speaks English perfectly, and he’s fighting for the Americans in World War II. His two best friends—one is fighting for Soviet Union and the other is fighting for Germany—all in Europe together, but on different sides. Then, after the war is over, they reunite and rekindle their friendship, and that friendship lasted decades and decades on, just an amazing story and amazing life.”
Fischer moved to Alaska in 1950 and became active in the statehood movement. He was a member of the last territorial legislature and was elected three times as a Democrat to the Alaska Senate, where he co-authored the repeal of Alaska’s death penalty.
His widow, Jane Angvik, told Alaska Public Media reporter Liz Ruskin that he was especially proud of Article I, Section 1, of the Alaska Constitution. It echoes the U.S. Constitution on the rights of its citizens to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” but ends with something new: “that all persons have corresponding obligations to the people and to the State.”
“And what that means is, you have to be involved in your government,” Angvik said. “It’s ours. It’s us.”
Mark Wolf is a senior editor at NCSL.