Rep. Mary Peltola’s husband, Eugene Peltola, Jr., died in a plane crash Tuesday night in Alaska.
“We are devastated to share that Mary’s husband, Eugene Peltola Jr. – ‘Buzzy’ to all of us who knew and loved him – passed away earlier this morning following a plane accident in Alaska,” Rep. Peltola’s Chief of Staff Anton McParland stated on Sept. 13. “He was one of those people that was obnoxiously good at everything. He had a delightful sense of humor that lightened the darkest moments. 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. We are heartbroken for the family’s loss.”
According to McParland, Peltola is returning to Alaska. She was in the Alaska during President Biden’s recent stop at Joint Base Elmendorf/Richardson for a fuel stop and 9/11 ceremony. Peltola flew back to D.C. with the president.
“Mary is returning home to be with their family, and we ask that their privacy be respected during this time,” McParland said. “Our team will continue to meet with constituents and carry on the work of the office while Mary and her family grieve.”
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Mary Peltola has seven children, including three stepchildren from her late husband.
Gov. Mike Dunleavy and his wife Rose expressed his condolences for Peltola and her family in a statement released Sept. 13.
“Rose and I are shocked and deeply saddened by the passing of Gene Peltola. He was our neighbor in Kotzebue decades ago and our paths continued to cross to this day,” Dunleavy said. “I knew Gene as a man who loved his family and put family first. He was smart, funny, hardworking and one of those guys you just enjoyed meeting up with. He dedicated his career to public service. Whether he was working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, serving on the Bethel city council, or speaking with state legislators, Gene always worked to ensure government worked for Alaskans.
Dunleavy said he and his wife are praying for the Peltola family.
In 2018, Eugene Peltola Jr. (of Yupik and Tlingit descent), was appointed as Regional Director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) in Alaska. The BIA Alaska Regional Office oversees offices in Anchorage and Fairbanks, all of which provide services to 227 federally recognized Alaska Native tribes.
According to the BIA website, Eugene had served at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) as the Federal Subsistence Management Program lead, Regional Director, where he was helped coordinate and implement subsistence management on all federal lands in Alaska.
He also worked at three National Wildlife Refuges including as a zone supervisor for Refuge Law Enforcement and Refuge Manager for the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. From October 2010 to September 2012, he served as vice-mayor and council member for the city of Bethel, Alaska.