Resident commissioner mourns congressional colleague Young
By John McPhaul
Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón is mourning the passing of Alaska’s at-large Rep. Don Young, who died on an airline flight on Saturday.
“Don Young’s unwavering support and mentorship guided me and hundreds of members of Congress throughout his 49 years of service in the House,” González Colón said.
Young, 88, lost consciousness on a flight from Los Angeles to Seattle and attendants were unable to revive him, according to a press release from his office.
“He was Puerto Rico’s biggest ally, who understood our cause for statehood because he remembered how it was once Alaska’s plight,” the resident commissioner said. “This loss is immeasurable; I am stunned, shocked and so saddened. I pray during this painful time for his family, his wife Anne, who was by his side, friends and the people he proudly represented.
Young was the “dean” of the House of Representatives, and the longest-serving member of Congress. He was the House’s sole representative from Alaska for three-quarters of the state’s existence (see story on pages 7-8).
González Colón said that even in their last farewell, without knowing it, Young transmitted the humility and gentlemanliness that distinguished him.
“Yesterday I was with him at a hearing in Natural Resources -- I opened the door to leave and he told me, ‘God will protect you in Heaven’ and I answered: ‘You have done it here in this life,’” she said on Saturday.
“Don Young was a fighter for what he believed in and for his constituents. He could be firm and resolute when he thought something was wrong but at the same time good-humored and clever in his exchanges in the committee,” the resident commissioner said. “Noone, not even myself, would have imagined back then, when I first met him in Puerto Rico at age 20, that I was going to be his colleague in Congress. It was a great honor to have met him back then and it was an even greater honor to serve with him in Congress. Rest in peace my friend.”