A poet's prayer inscribed at the foot of the Pioneer Statue in Sitka implores, "Bring me men to match my mountains." In 1935, that prayer was answered with the arrival in Alaska of, Robert Bruce Atwood.


Bob Atwood was a big man, big in many ways.

He was blessed with height and breadth greater than most men.

Yet, his size was never imposing, for Bob was a graceful man. He was a gentle man and a gentleman.

His size, intellect and personality gave him a commanding presence. He used them for Alaska, especially Anchorage.

He stood above the crowd, not to be superior, rather to be guardian, and be first to withstand whatever pains were inflicted by man or nature against his beloved community.

Be they earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, wind storms, of either natural or political derivation, Bob was first to rally the people of Anchorage.

His newspaper informed us. His editorials inspired all of us to, match our mountains.

Bob had a deep mane of hair, streaked white in his winter years like the tops of the Chugach Mountains. His spirit was expansive and bright as the sunlit mountains on a clear March morning. A gleam in his eyes reflected the adventure in his soul.

Anyone who had ocassion to chat with Bob in recent years will tell you they departed his company with a feeling of peace and refreshment. He reflected the same tranquility as the mountains he personified.


Just as the mountains around Anchorage span a great stretch of geologic history, Bob Atwood's life spans a great stretch of Alaska's history.

Few, too few, Alaskans can recall an Alaska without Bob Atwood. His life and times are the history of modern Alaska as we know it.

In the grand sweep of Alaska history, he more than any one else, held the broom.

In his life, Bob saw many changes. He adapted to newfangled technology as naturally as the mountain tops adapt to the seasons.

He saw changes from one room school houses, three cent stamps, twelve party hand-cranked telephones, hand-cranked washing machines, log cabins, outhouses and horse drawn buggies--- to---a cure for polio, nuclear energy, computers, man walking on the moon and cell telephones.

He nurtured our fledgling community when World War II threatened Alaska's civility.

He dedicated himself to civic development in the postwar years.

He became the 'civilian general' in the great fight for Alaska statehood.

He stood foresquare for economic prosperity for all Alaskans by championing:

Not long ago, Bob told me that advancing age caused his eyes to water and he always seemed to have a teardrop on the edge of his eye.

He recognized that physically he was slowing down but he delighted that his spirit still soared.

To my way of thinking, Bob improved with age. That glisten in his eye was proof that Bob's body could no longer contain his spirit.


Bob was as romantic as the pink, golden sunset on Sleeping Lady Mountain. He fell in love with Alaska before he got here. He spied a great daughter of Alaska, Evangeline Rasmuson, when he was a reporter in Springfield, Illinois and had the good sense to marry her, then to move here. Theirs was one of Alaska's great love affairs.

Next to Evangeline and his family, Bob's most ardent love was for Alaskan history. He and Evangeline contributed much to Alaska's chronicle.

Always making jokes at his own expense, he told me he was getting hard of hearing. But he didn't mind it because he'd heard it all before anyway.

He remembered the time when a dollar was worth a dollar and the service charge included the service.

On more than one occasion I heard him remark that he might have been better off if he never rented his printing press to the competing newspaper.

But he said of himself, "I'm an opinionated sonofagun."

He really believed that the town was better off with two newspapers... so that people would get someone else's opinion.

That illustrated how secure Bob Atwood was in his own dedication to democratic principles.

He welcomed the fray of diversity in first amendment freedoms.


Bob was a friend to any and all Alaskans who would be his friend.

He was my friend.

When he called me before election day to wish me good luck we agreed we'd get together to talk about some mining history of mutual interest.

We didn't get to do it.

I'll miss my friend.

But, I guess that sometimes God needs a friend, too.

He's got a good one in Robert Bruce Atwood.