Alaska Representative Don Young Will Lie in State at US Capitol

The longest-serving Republican member of the U.S. House died on March 18

The longest-serving Republican Congressman will lie in state at the nation’s Capitol on March 29.

Representative Don Young died on March 18 at the age of 88 while traveling home to Alaska. His office added in the announcement that his wife, Anne, was with him at the time of his passing.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on March 21 that a formal ceremony will be held next week with Young’s family and invited guests. Congressional members will be allowed to take part in the viewing after the memorial service in the National Statuary Hall.

“The photographs of him with ten presidents of both parties who signed his bills into law that proudly cover the walls of his Rayburn office are a testament to his longevity and his legislative mastery,” Pelosi said.

In 2020, Young was elected to serve his 25th term in Congress. 

The Army veteran was born in California on June 9, 1933. He relocated to Alaska in 1959, the year it was granted statehood. Young attributed his interest in the northernmost part of America to being read Jack London’s “Call of Wild” by his father, per ABC News.

In addition to working as a tug and barge operator and a fifth-grade teacher at a Bureau of Indian Affairs school, Young was elected mayor of Fort Yukon in 1964. In 1966, he was elected to the Alaska State House before winning a seat in the State Senate.

Unhappy in the Alaskan Senate but unwilling to quit, Young was encouraged by his first wife, Lu, to run for U.S. House of Representatives, which she said he would never win.

He challenged the Democratic incumbent, U.S. Representative Nick Begich in 1972. Begich and then-majority leader Lousiana Representative Hale Boggs disappeared on a flight from Anchorage to Juneau three weeks before the election. 

Though Begich was reelected, he was declared dead in December of 1972 and Young won a special election in 1973. 

In 2021, Young’s latest reelection campaign was challenged by Republican Nicholas Begich III — the grandson of Nick Begich.

“Congressman Young is in it to win it. He welcomes challengers to the race, and looks forward to once again earning Alaskans’ trust,” a staff member from Young’s office told Alaska’s News Source. “Congressman Young knows how to get things done; he is excited to take his message of experience and conservative values across the state.”

Young became the longest-serving member of Alaska’s congressional delegation in 2013, a title previously held by U.S. Senator Ted Stevens.

Young married Anne Garland Walton in 2015, six years after Lu Young’s death, on his 82nd birthday at a private ceremony in the U.S. Capitol chapel.

According to the Architect of the Capitol, “the U.S. Capitol has been considered the most suitable place for the nation to pay final tribute to its most eminent citizens by having their remains lay in state (in the case of government officials and military officers) or in honor (in the case of private citizens).”

The tradition is not regulated by law or written Congressional rule. 

Since 1865, most services in the Rotunda have used the catafalque constructed for the coffin of Abraham Lincoln,” the office notes online.

Young is the second person to lie in state at the Capitol this year. Former Senate majority leader Harry Reid was given the honor on Jan. 12, 2022 following his passing at the age of 82 in December.

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