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Tony Knowles

Gov. Tony Knowles

  • December 5, 1994 - December 2, 2002
  • Democratic
  • January 1, 1943
  • Oklahoma
  • Yale University
  • Married Susan Morris; three children
  • Army


TONY KNOWLES was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1962 and served in the 82nd Airborne Division; he volunteered to serve in Vietnam from 1964 to 1965. In 1968 he received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale University. He moved to Alaska to work as a roughneck at the Cook Inlet and North Slope oil fields; one year later, he opened his first restaurant, Grizzly Burgers. With the help of partners, he expanded to three locations and then opened the Downtown Deli. He served in the Anchorage Assembly from 1975 to 1979 and was elected mayor of Anchorage from 1981 to 1987. As mayor, he helped private industry create hundreds of new jobs and prepared Anchorage for the future with improved city services and an 11-mile running/bike trail later named the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. From 1988 to 1989, he served on the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and initiated efforts to stop roe-stripping and other waste of Alaska’s fish resources. Governor Knowles initiated the “Smart Start” program, which ensures health care for all children, strengthens prevention programs, and insists on zero tolerance for child abuse and neglect. His Quality Schools Initiative improved Alaska’s schools by combining mandatory standards, comprehensive testing, and remedial action with increased financial support for schools. He was honored by the National Congress of American Indians in 2001 for his longstanding support for Alaska Native Tribes and subsistance rights.

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