Former Alaska House Speaker Gail Phillips dies

A white woman with short curly hair
Former Alaska House Speaker Gail Phillips appears in a 2017 interview with Tim Bradner on Capitol Views on KTOO 360. She died on Thursday at the age of 76. (Capitol Views)

Former Alaska House Speaker Gail Phillips died this week at the age of 76. 

Phillips was born in Juneau, grew up in Nome, and later lived in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Homer. 

She was a Republican who represented Homer in the House from 1991 to 2001. She was the speaker from 1995 to 1999. 

She advocated for resource development, and described why in a 2017 interview for the Capitol Views TV show on KTOO 360.

“I think if people live here and work here — and especially if they have a job in one of the resource industries — they realize that that is what is keeping Alaska going,” she said. “And that is what enables all of us to live here and to have the good life that we have here today.”

She ran for lieutenant governor in 2002, finishing fourth in the primary. 

Former Gov. Sean Parnell was a House member during Phillips’ first two years as speaker. He said she was a steady leader who set a respectful tone in the chamber. 

“Just like today, there were some difficult financial times that she helped lead us through,” he said. “And I always appreciated the way she led with fairness for all members.”

In an article she wrote as she was leaving the Legislature, Phillips said her priorities had been schools, roads and programs for seniors on the Kenai Peninsula. 

Phillips was a partner in a mining company and worked for airlines for 10 years. 

She was married and had two daughters. She served on the Iditarod Trail Committee and was honored by the Iditarod last year as the annual honorary musher.

Andrew Kitchenman is the state government and politics reporter for Alaska Public Media and KTOO in Juneau. Reach him at

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