The Alaska State Conference

Written by: Judith C. Dean, Alaska State Regent
March 22, 2017

I left Denver early on the second of March for visits to Alaska, Vancouver and Hawaii.  The view out my window as we made our approach into the Juneau airport made me appreciate the skill of Alaska Airline pilots.  Steep mountains appeared on both sides of the airplane and the weather was patchy cloud cover and snow.  The sun peaked out just long enough for me to capture a black and white version of the scene.  Seeing only the lower part of this vast state, makes me want to go again.  Colorado is a beautiful state, but Alaska surpasses it in sheer majesty and size. 

- President General Ann Dillon

Alaska Daughters were honored to host the President General for our state conference in Juneau, Alaska.  Juneau, located in southeast Alaska, is the home of our host chapter, Inside Passage, which is our newest chapter.  Juneau, is remote, accessible only by boat and air.

Winter weather in Alaska is unpredictable.  Falling snow greeted Mrs. Dillon when her plane arrived and it continued to snow throughout her visit.  On the flight with Mrs. Dillon were other honored guests: Peggy Norton, State Regent of Colorado and Rachel Sanisidro, State Regent of Minnesota.  Our State Recording/Organizing Secretary, Regina Heffelfinger, who came from the Boston area, was also on that plane. Arriving at almost the same time were flights carrying Alaska Daughters from Fairbanks, Kodiak, Eagle River and Anchorage and Jeannine Hoover, a visitor from the Seminole Chapter in Florida.  There was quite a DAR gathering at the airport.  State Regent, Judith Dean and Inside Passage Daughter Sarah Hieb were there to greet the arrivals. Arriving later that night were Curator General, Barby Frankenberry and her husband Bob.  They were met by Honorary State Regent, Lucinda Gryder and State Treasurer, Ruth Durr.  

That evening, Mrs. Dillon and our honored guests had dinner at The Hangar on the Wharf, a waterfront restaurant in an historic aircraft hangar built in 1940 for floatplanes.  The Hangar honors southeast Alaska aviation, serves a wonderful selection of fresh Alaska seafood, and was in keeping with the theme of our state conference “Celebrating Transportation in Alaska”.  Enroute back to the hotel, a wrong turn took us on an adventure.  Up the hillside we went, on a narrow, one-way street that became too steep for the rental car.  We had an exciting back-down until we found a spot to turn around and proceed going the wrong way down that steep hill.

On Friday Morning, Sarah Hieb was the tour-guide for our visitors who met for breakfast and then toured the Alaska State Museum.   The Museum’s historical collection includes objects from the Russian colonial era.  These include a bronze double-headed eagle emblem, one of only two known to exist from that period and a medallion presented to Alexander Baranov by Catherine the Great.  The Museum also houses objects from the American period highlighting exploration, transportation, commerce, domestic culture and government.  Alaska Native art in the collection includes objects from Alaskan Eskimo, Athabascan, Aleut and Northwest Coast groups.  The native basket collection is among the most comprehensive in existence.  The Museum also has a fabulous collection of ivory carvings ranging from prehistoric to 20th century. 

Sarah then led the group to the Mendenhall Glacier. From the pavilion, the group could gaze over Mendenhall Lake and the 13 mile long glacier that ends at the lake.  Although the weather was blustery,  the frozen lake was dotted with Alaskans enjoying winter recreation.  A few hearty souls continued to the beautiful Shrine of St. Therese which is located on a small spit of land jutting out into Lynn Canal.  The church is built of rounded river rocks and is set among towering spruce trees. 

Our state conference was held at the Westmark Baranof Hotel in downtown Juneau.  On Friday, the Inside Passage Chapter hosted an informal social evening at the hotel.  Board games and a scavenger hunt were featured along with plenty of time for meeting old and new friends. 

On Saturday, our general membership meeting began with the presentation of the Colors by Cadets from the Southeast Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol.  They carried replicas of Revolutionary War era guns including the Kentucky Long Rifle and the Brown Bess.   Our host chapter created beautiful centerpieces for our tables depicting transportation in Alaska. Greetings were brought by the Honorable Ken Koelsch, Mayor of the City/Borough of Juneau, a historian who treated us to interesting facts about Juneau’s history.  

Our lunch speaker was Curator General Barby Frankenberry, who entertained us with information about the DAR Museum.  This was special because my State Regent’s project is to support the DAR Museum.  Proceeds from the sale of my State Regent’s pin will be presented to Barby Frankenberry at the end of my term.  Committee reports highlighted contributions made by Alaska Daughters toward NSDAR goals.  We are small in membership, 263, but amazing in all that we do to support the ideals of historic preservation, patriotism, and education.  The Bylaws Committee presented ten proposed bylaws changes that were thoroughly debated and voted upon. The highlight of our evening banquet was Mrs. Dillon’s after-dinner talk about DAR in the 21st Century. Mrs. Dillon was presented with a donation to support her President General’s Project of needed repairs to the DAR buildings in Washington DC. 

As is tradition, on Sunday morning, Alaska’s Honorary State Regents met for breakfast.  We were delighted to be joined by Mrs. Dillon.  That afternoon, we departed Juneau with memories of a warm and congenial meeting with renewed inspiration to continue doing our part in Moving Forward in Service to America.   

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