Former Alaska Chief Justice Craig Stowers dies at age 67

Chief Justice Craig Stowers waits outside the House Speaker’s office before delivering his State of the Judiciary address to a joint session of the Alaska Legislature on Feb. 7, 2018. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

Former Alaska Chief Justice Craig Stowers has died, the Alaska Court System said Friday. Stowers, who retired from the state Supreme Court in 2020, was 67.

In a message to court staff, current Chief Justice Daniel Winfree said Stowers died peacefully on Thursday. He did not share a cause of death.

“I served with him for about a decade on the Supreme Court and can attest to his hard work, his dedication to justice in Alaska, his love of the Alaska Court System, and his great sense of humor,” Winfree said.

Born in Florida, Stowers came to Alaska in 1977 as a National Park Service ranger working at Denali National Park. After leaving the Park Service, he obtained a law degree in 1985 and worked in public and private legal practice before being named to the Anchorage Superior Court in 2004.

In 2009, then-Gov. Sean Parnell picked him for a seat on the state Supreme Court. While on the court, he frequently dissented from rulings that upheld abortion rights in Alaska and opposed the legality of the recall campaign against current Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

In one of his last rulings, he cast a deciding vote in a split decision that dismissed a challenge to Alaska’s fossil fuel policy brought by youths concerned about climate change. (Stowers heard the case before he retired.)

Named chief justice by his fellow Supreme Court judges in 2015, he oversaw the court system during years of steep budget cuts but maintained a sense of humor, telling state legislators in 2016, “My friends, do not be afraid: Fear is the mind-killer,” using a phrase from the science fiction novel “Dune.” He served as chief justice for three years.

Stowers said in 2020 that he would retire early from the court to prevent a wave of retirements between 2023 and 2025. Dunleavy picked Dario Borghesan to replace him.

This story was originally published by the Anchorage Daily News and is republished here with permission.

Anchorage Daily News

Anchorage Daily News is our partner in Anchorage. KTOO collaborates with partners across the state to cover important news and to share stories with our audiences.

Like what you just read? KTOO news stories are member supported. Support your community news source today. Donate to KTOO.

Read next

Site notifications
Update notification options
Subscribe to notifications