The husband of Congresswoman Mary Peltola of Alaska died in a plane crash in the early morning of Sept. 13.
Eugene “Buzzy” Peltola Jr. and the first-term congresswoman shared four children who were born during her time in the Alaska state legislature between 1998 and 2009. The couple also share his three older children and two grandchildren.
Anton McParland, Peltola’s Chief of Staff, described Eugene Peltola as “one of those people that was obnoxiously good at everything.”
“He has a delightful sense of humor that lightened the darkest moments,” wrote McParland in a statement. “He was definitely the cook in the family. And family was most important to him.”
“He was completely devoted to his parents, kids, siblings, extended family and friends – and he simply adored Mary,” McParland continued. “We are heartbroken for the family’s loss.”
The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed Eugene Peltola’s plane had crashed around 8:45 a.m. local time shortly after taking off near St. Mary’s, Alaska. He was the pilot and the only person onboard, per Reuters.
Mr. Peltola served as the top Alaska official in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, per Alaska Public Radio.
“Eugene Peltola served as regional director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Alaska, overseeing offices in Fairbanks and Anchorage and services provided to 227 federally recognized Alaska Native tribes,” reports Politico. “He was of Yupik and Tlingit descent and had served on Orutsararmiut Native Council, a federally recognized tribal government.”
The Peltolas lived in Bethel in the western part of the state. Peltola described her husband as a hunter while discussing the significance of guns in Alaskan culture during an interview while on the campaign trail, per HITC.
Representative Peltola was first elected to federal office during a special election in September of 2022. The congressional seat was vacant for the first time in 49 years after the unexpected death of Congressman Don Young in March of 2022. The special election was the first time the state used ranked-choice voting.
The Democrat served the remainder of Young’s term and was elected to the seat in November of 2022. Peltola, who is also Yup’ik, was celebrated as the first Alaska Native to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Most recently, Representative Peltola spoke at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska with President Joe Biden to mark the 22nd anniversary of 9/11.
“While Alaska may be far from Ground Zero, we too felt the impacts of that day,” said Peltola, per Alaska Native News. “Many of our brave soldiers were deployed overseas in the following years, where they fought and some died in the service of this nation. Everyone standing here today is in their debt.”