Jack Coghill

John Bruce Coghill (September 24, 1925 – February 13, 2019) was a politician and businessman who was the lieutenant governor of Alaska from 1990 to 1994 under Governor Walter Hickel. Both were members of the Alaskan Independence Party.

Jack Coghill
6th Lieutenant Governor of Alaska
In office
December 3, 1990 – December 5, 1994
GovernorWally Hickel
Preceded bySteve McAlpine
Succeeded byFran Ulmer
Member of the Alaska Senate
In office
January 1959 – January 3, 1965
Preceded byNew district[1]
Succeeded byGrant H. Pearson[2]
ConstituencyDistrict L
In office
January 1985 – December 3, 1990
Preceded byH. Pappy Moss[3]
Succeeded byDick Shultz[4]
ConstituencyDistrict J
Personal details
Born(1925-09-24)September 24, 1925
Fairbanks, Territory of Alaska, U.S. (now Alaska, U.S.)
DiedFebruary 13, 2019(2019-02-13) (aged 93)
North Pole, Alaska, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (before 1990; 1994–2019)
Alaskan Independence (1990–1994)
Spouse(s)Frances Gilbert

Originally elected as the Republican Party's lieutenant governor nominee in 1990, Coghill had faced serious compatibility issues with running mate Arliss Sturgulewski. AIP chair Joe Vogler vacated his party's nominated slate of John Lindauer and Jerry Ward and replaced them with Wally Hickel and Coghill. While Hickel turned his back on the AIP and their platform almost immediately after taking office, Coghill remained loyal to the party, even becoming their gubernatorial nominee in 1994. Prior to these events, he was well known in Alaskan political circles as "Mr. Republican."[5]


Coghill was born in Fairbanks in 1925.[6] In his prior political career, he was best known by many for being the mayor of Nenana in the interior of Alaska for 22 years.[7] Coghill served in the territorial and state legislatures of Alaska for a number of years. He was elected to the territorial House in 1952 and again in 1956, representing the 4th District, which encompassed the interior and portions of southwestern Alaska. After statehood, he served as a senator in the first three state legislatures. Coghill ran unopposed in 1960,[8] and did not run for re-election in 1964.

He would be once again elected to the state Senate in 1984, and served until he resigned on December 3, 1990 to assume the post of lieutenant governor. Coghill was also elected to Alaska's constitutional convention, serving as one of the 55 Club (55 members wrote the constitution in 55 days) and his copy of the constitution hangs in Constitution Hall on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.[6][9] He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 2004.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

He married Frances Gilbert, from Fairbanks, and had six children: Patty, John Jr. (who succeeded him as a state legislator), twins Jerry and Jim, Paula, and Jeff. His father, William A. Coghill, emigrated to the United States from Scotland and chose to come straight to Alaska. He was a pioneer who hiked to the Interior from Valdez, worked as a printer for what is now the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, and then opened a trading post in Nenana. The Coghill General Store is still in operation and owned by the family.[10]

Coghill had two older brothers, William F. (deceased,[11] Col. U.S. Army Ret. and former CFO of the Alaska Railroad) and Robert A. Sr. (deceased,[12] managed Coghill's Store after the death of William A.), who stayed in Alaska their entire lives. He published his autobiography, "Growing up in Alaska" in 2009 describing his personal and political life in the 49th state, as one of its last surviving state constitution signatories.[13] Coghill died on February 13, 2019 at the age of 93.[14]


  1. ^ https://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=340598
  2. ^ https://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=340599
  3. ^ https://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=340474
  4. ^ https://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=340475
  5. ^ Tim Ellis (December 26, 2017). "'Let them talk!' Iconic political figure Jack Coghill urges collegiality among legislators". KUAC - Fairbanks. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Profile, Juneauempire.com; accessed June 15, 2017.
  7. ^ "In Alaska, spring means bets in the Nenana Ice Classic". Usatoday.Com. 2004-04-06. Retrieved 2017-06-15.
  8. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-10-09. Retrieved 2009-11-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ a b Profile, Uaf.edu; accessed June 15, 2017.
  10. ^ About -- Coghill's General Store. Accessed October 4, 2018.
  11. ^ "William Coghill Obituary - Fairbanks, AK". legacy.com. 29 March 2016.
  12. ^ "Anchorage Newspapers Obituary Index 1981-2001" (PDF).
  13. ^ "Growing Up in Alaska by Jack Coghill". Goodreads. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  14. ^ https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/Signer-of-Alaska-Constitution-Jack-Coghill-dies-13614889.php

External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Wally Hickel
Alaskan Independence nominee for Governor of Alaska
Succeeded by
Sylvia Sullivan
Political offices
Preceded by
Steve McAlpine
Lieutenant governor of Alaska
Succeeded by
Fran Ulmer