Ben Stevens dies at 63

 Ben Stevens at an APOC hearing, Jan. 2007 (KTUU)
Ben Stevens at an APOC hearing, Jan. 2007 (KTUU) (KTUU)
Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 11:23 AM AKDT|Updated: Oct. 14, 2022 at 12:37 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Ben Stevens, a former chief of staff to the governor and son of a prominent Alaskan politician, died Thursday, according to ConocoPhillips Alaska, where he worked. He was 63 years old.

Alaska State Troopers wrote in an online dispatch that they received a report that a hiker — later identified as Stevens — was having a medical emergency while hiking the Lost Lake trail near Seward Thursday evening. Troopers wrote that LifeMed arrived on scene at 6:41 p.m. just 44 minutes after troopers received the initial report.

Ben Stevens became Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s chief of staff in July 2019, taking over for Tuckerman Babcock. He left the post in Feb. 2021 when he took a job with ConocoPhillips Alaska as the company’s Vice President of External Affairs and Transportation.

Stevens was also a former Alaska Senator and served as Senate President in the Legislature. Stevens was one of a handful of lawmakers whose legislative offices were raided by the FBI in 2006 on suspicions of corruption. That investigation led to arrests of lawmakers and business leaders, but Stevens was never charged with a crime and maintained his innocence.

Stevens was the son of Alaska’s longtime late U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, who died in a plane crash in Aug. 2010. The former senator spent over 40 years in congress — from Dec. 1968 to Jan. 2009 — at the time a record for longest-serving senator in U.S. history, and was revered by most Alaskans for his work for the state.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy shared a message of condolence on his Facebook page Friday afternoon, which read:

“Ben Stevens was a good friend of mine. I will always cherish the time he was my Chief of Staff; his knowledge and political acumen were significant assets in my administration. He dedicated his life to making Alaska a better place. Everyone will remember Ben’s continued commitment to our great state. Rose and I offer our prayers to Ben’s wife, Elizabeth, and the kids during this difficult time.”

Other politicians and longtime friends of Stevens from across the state are expressing their condolences.

A tweet from Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s account read, “Ben was a friend of mine, a great dad and husband, and one who made Alaska a better place for us all. His sudden passing leaves a hole in our Alaskan fabric. Ben Stevens will be be genuinely missed.”

Sen. Dan Sullivan shared in a post on Facebook that read, “Like thousands of Alaskans, Julie and I are shocked and heartbroken by the sudden passing of Ben Stevens. Ben was a wise, true friend to us and to so many across our state. He was a fiercely loyal husband and father to his wonderful family. He was a true public servant who loved Alaska with all of his heart and always fought with Ted Stevens-like zeal for our state’s interests.

”We will all miss Ben greatly. Our deepest condolences go out to his family, particularly his wonderful wife, Elizabeth, and their incredible children. Our prayers are with you all and with so many Alaskans who knew and loved him.”

A statement from Sen. Tom Begich released by Alaska Senate Democrats reads, “Ben made his place known in Alaska politics. There were times we agreed and many times we sparred on policy. He was a bulldog, but when it came down to it, we always had the ability to work with one another to determine how best to move this great state forward. Ben helped shape Alaska as Chief of Staff to the Governor, as Senate President, as an activist, and as an Alaskan. He will be missed by his friends and especially his family. My thoughts go out to all of his family in their time of grief.”

Rep. Mary Peltola tweeted about the passing of Stevens and shared a statement that read, “My love and prayers go out to the entire Stevens family. Ben and I had a great working relationship and I considered him a good friend. We just had lunch last week which makes his sudden passing even more difficult. Alaska has lost a great leader who worked tirelessly for our entire state.”

This story has been updated with additional information.