Sealaska Chairman Kookesh Flown to Anchorage After Heart Attack

Former state senator Albert Kookesh was medevaced to Anchorage Monday morning after suffering a heart attack. His eldest daughter Elaine says the 64-year old Kookesh was in Juneau preparing for a trip out of state, when he called his wife saying he was having chest pains and was going to the hospital. His wife also was in Juneau and was able to fly with him.

He was stabilized and flown to Providence Hospital and Medical Center.

“They’re currently now at Providence. They’re going to go in with a catheter and see where the blockage is,” she said Monday morning.

The eldest daughter of Mr. Kookesh’s five children, Elaine Kookesh says she will travel to Anchorage this evening to be with her dad.

“My sister and I are heading up tonight and then our other sister will head up as soon as she can,” she said. “Just keep us all in your thoughts and prayers. He’s a tough guy and never sits even when he’s sick.”

A Democrat from Angoon, Kookesh served 16 years in total, eight as a representative and eight more as a senator. He was defeated by Sitka Republican Bert Stedman after parts of their southeast districts were combined during redistricting.

Kookesh is the current chairman of Sealaska’s board of directors and co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives board.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for the Alaska Public Radio Network. She got her start in broadcasting at the age of 11 as the park announcer of the fast pitch baseball games in Deer Park, Wisconsin. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for more than 18 years. She was the co-founder and former Editor of Northern Aspects, a magazine featuring northern Wisconsin writers and artists. She worked for 7 years at tribal station WOJB on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibway Reservation in Wisconsin, first as an on-air programmer and special projects producer and eventually News Director. In 1997 she co-hosted a continuing Saturday afternoon public affairs talk program on station KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. Radio brought her to Alaska where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting. Following her work there, she helped co-found the non-profit broadcast company Native Voice Communications with veteran Alaskan broadcasters Nellie Moore, D’Anne Hamilton, Len Anderson, Sharon McConnell and Veronica Iya. NVC created the award-winning Independent Native News as well as producing many other documentaries and productions. Townsend was NVC’s technical trainer and assistant producer of INN. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Her print work and interviews have been published in News from Indian Country, Yakama Nation Review and other publications. Ms. Townsend has also worked as a broadcast trainer for the Native American Journalist’s Association and with NPR’s Doug Mitchell and as a freelance editor. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Townsend was the recipient of a Fellowship at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting in Rhode Island as well as a fellowship at the Knight Digital Media Center in Berkeley. She is an avid reader, a rabid gardener and counts water skiing, training horses, diving and a welding certification among her past and current interests. ltownsend (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8452 | About Lori