Former Sen. Lyda Green remembered as a mentor and advocate who brought lawmakers together

Lyda Green
Former Senate president Lyda Green (center), flanked by Nancy Murkowski and then-Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom, watches the 2003 signing of a state bill on breast cancer by Gov. Frank Murkowski. (From State of Alaska)

Former Alaska Senate president Lyda Green died Tuesday in Soldotna. She was 85.

Green spent 14 years in the Senate starting in 1994, representing a large swath of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough as a Republican. During her two years as president, from 2007 to 2008, she led a bipartisan caucus that included 15 of the chamber’s 20 senators.

Current Senate President Gary Stevens (R-Kodiak) was Green’s majority leader in those final two years. He said in a phone interview that Green was instrumental in bringing Democrats and Republicans together.

“She did a great job, and that was a very successful year. She was able to work with people, you know, wherever they were – you know, far left, far right, middle of the road,” Stevens said. “She was really able to bring people together to make a decision and move ahead. So, yeah, I just had the greatest respect for her.”

Stevens currently leads a 17-member bipartisan Senate caucus. He said he also enjoyed Green’s sense of humor.

Green spent time teaching in Anchorage and in the Mat-Su and ran a tutoring business. Among her tutoring clients was House Speaker Cathy Tilton’s oldest son. Tilton, a Wasilla Republican, recalled Green’s dedication to serving her community. 

“She definitely was an advocate for Alaskans,” Tilton said by phone. “She definitely made a mark in the history of our state that will be remembered, and personally, Lyda was somebody that you could look up to as a mentor.”

Sen. David Wilson (R-Wasilla) said in a phone interview that Green was generous with her time and always willing to help new lawmakers learn the ropes, even after she left office.

“When I ran for Senate, she actually invited me to her home and said, you know, ‘David, I’m, you know, friends with Lynn Gattis. I’m not going to be able to vote for you, but I’m here to offer you any, you know, basically pearls of wisdom.’” Wilson said. “I sat there for three hours, and she gave me some incredible advice.”

Green was born in Livingston, Texas in 1938 and first moved to Alaska in 1962, a year after marrying Curtis Green. 

In a prepared statement, Gov. Mike Dunleavy reflected on Green’s friendship and service to the state. 

“Lyda was more than a colleague and a neighbor, she was a family friend and I counted on her for sound advice, experience and wisdom throughout my time in public office,” Dunleavy said. “She was a legislative leader in the creation and passage of some of Alaska’s most important public policies over the past few decades. Our hearts go out to her husband of 62 years Curtis, her three children, Bradley, Kristie, and Shelton, eleven grandchildren and five great grandchildren.”

Dunleavy says a public memorial service will be scheduled at a later date. The governor says he’ll announce a day for flags to be flown at half-staff after consulting with Green’s family. 

Eric Stone covers state government, tracking the Alaska Legislature, state policy and its impact on all Alaskans. Reach him at

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