Don Young had been a member of Congress since 1973, making him the member with the longest tenure in the House. In Meridian, California, Young experienced childhood on a family ranch.
Young was born on June 9, 1933 and grew up in Meridian, California. In 1958, he graduated from Chico State College, which is now recognized as California State University, Chico, with a bachelor’s degree in education.
Per his formal biography, Young also enlisted in the United States Army.
In 1959, the same year Alaska was admitted as a state, Young traveled to Alaska with his father. His father read him the book ‘Call of the Wild,’ which inspired his journey north.
Young was elected to office after sitting as mayor of Fort Yukon, as well as a member of the Alaska House of Representatives and the Alaska Senate.
Young got elected to the United States Congress in a special election in 1973 because his opponent passed away before the election was over. In 1972, Young was the Republican opponent of Democratic U.S. Rep. Nick Begich, who was defeated in the election.
Begich’s jet, flying from Anchorage to Juneau at the election, vanished three weeks before the election. Alaskans, on the other hand, reelected Begich.
In December 1972, Begich was declared dead. Young was elected in a tight special election in March 1973. He stayed in office until 2022 and was vying for re-election in November of this year.
Young’s blunt speech was well-known, as was his staunch defense of the Alaskan citizens and state. Young was also known for his bluntness.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) expressed his deepest sympathies via Twitter, asserting, “Sad to hear about the death of Don Young, a lifelong delegate from Alaska. He was a pal and devoted public servant. God bless his relatives throughout this tough period.”
Sad to hear of the passing of Don Young longtime representative from Alaska he was a friend & dedicated public servant God bless his family during this difficult time
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) March 19, 2022
“Don Young passed away,” wrote Libby Bakalar, an Alaskan attorney, and writer, on Twitter.
“Whether you liked him, he was a icon (I did not). I constantly voted against him and felt a lot of what he said and did was bad. Still, he was the longest-serving member of Congress.”
“I believe he generally had (what he believed to be) Alaska’s finest interests at heart while he represented the state. RIP.”
Don Young died. He was a legend, like it or not (I did not). I always voted against him & thought a lot of the stuff he said & did was awful, but the man was the longest serving rep in Congress & I think usually had (what he at least felt) were AK’s best interests at heart. RIP.
— One Hot Mess AK (@libbybakalar) March 19, 2022
He was “vibrant, he had a great deal of energy, he’s very transparent of mind,” Jack Ferguson, Young’s former chief of staff, told the Anchorage Daily News.
“He spoke plainly about what he set out to achieve, set goals he desired to see come to fruition, and was happy to be running.”
According to news reports, Young had been on his way home when he died at the Los Angeles International Airport. According to his workplace, “His adored wife Ann was by his side.”