LizAnn Williams, mother of Alaska congresswoman, has died

two women hug in a doorway
Congresswoman Mary Peltola and her mother, LizAnn Williams, in an undated photo that Peltola posted on social media. (via Twitter)

Congresswoman Mary Peltola’s mother died Friday in Bethel.

LizAnn Piicigaq Williams, was a retired medical records clerk.

“She was very independent and very kind,” Peltola said.

Elizabeth Ann Andrew was born in 1946 near the mouth of the Gweek River, a tributary of the Kuskokwim. She lived there with her maternal grandparents, Leng’iq and Pamess’aq Daweak, until she was 6. Then, Peltola said, a Bureau of Indian Affairs official told the family they had to move to a village so LizAnn could go to school. The family moved to Kwethluk. She went on to graduate from the Chemawa Indian School in Salem, Ore., in 1964.

In Bethel, she met Ward Sattler, a Bush pilot and teacher. They had two daughters, Anna and Mary. In 1973, when LizAnn was pregnant with her younger daughter, she and Ward flew to Alaska villages to campaign for congressional candidate Don Young. Forty-nine years later, the child she carried was elected to Young’s seat in the U.S. House.

She worked in the medical records departments of Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corp. and Alaska Native Medical Center her whole career, Peltola said.

LizAnn is survived by her daughters and her husband of 37 years, Bethel City Manager Peter Williams.

A funeral will be Thursday afternoon at St. Sophia Orthodox Christian Church in Bethel.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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