1935-1943 George Lingo

1935-1943 George Lingo

Portrait of George Lingo. From 1931 meeting of the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines alumni picture. Photo: Rasmuson Library, Alumni Services CollectionFairbanks & McKinley Park

George Lingo, "a pioneer Alaskan in the true sense of the word," died May 21, 1976 at Saddleback Community Hospital in Laguna Hills, Calif., after a history of heart trouble.

He was dubbed a true pioneer in Senate Resolution No. 108 of the Ninth Legislature in the State of Alaska, which noted his passing due to his extended service to the state.

A native of Anaconda, Mont., Lingo came to Alaska in 1918 with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Archie Lingo, who over the years operated roadhouses at Prince of Wales Island, at La Touche on Montague Island, and at Chickaloon, north of Palmer.

Lingo finished his secondary work in Seattle at Lincoln High School then entered the University of Washington. After a short UW career, he enrolled as the sixteenth matriculate at the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines in 1923, the second year of the school, which later became the University of Alaska, thanks in part to Lingo's efforts.

He pursued several jobs to earn his way toward the degree in mining engineering which he received in 1927. "He sold coal for Cap Lathrop," reported his wife of 41 years, "delivered water from door to door, worked summers driving tourists on the Old Richardson Highway between Valdez and Fairbanks."

Pictured is the process of water delivery in the 1930s. A stove is used to keep the water from freezing. Photo: UAF Archives, LarVern Keys Collection"Since graduation," the News-Miner later said, Lingo "has been identified with the Mt. McKinley Tourist and Transportation Company. In this service," it continued, "he has made hosts of friends and at all times has been and is a booster for Alaska."

Lingo was one of the organizers for the Mt. McKinley Tourist Organization, a group struggling to put "The Mountain" on the map as a tourist attraction as early as the late 1920s. Several winters he was assigned the job of traveling through the U.S. placing exhibits of Mt. McKinley Park in all major transportation companies, and meeting with tourist companies and the press.

In 1932 George was elected to the Territorial Legislature as a Fairbanks representative. He was 31 at the time, the youngest man ever elected to the House and the first Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines' graduate to hold public office. He served two terms.

"Popular as a student in college, Mr. Lingo distinguished himself as an athlete and was prominent in various extracurricular activities," says the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner story of October 25, 1934, which announced Lingo's appointment to the college's board of trustees. He was on board until 1943. Michael J. Walsh was appointed to take his place on the board.

Standing from left to right: Abel (coach), Reed, T. Loftus, A. Loftus, G. Lingo. Sitting: R. Boyd, R. Anderson, D. MacDonald and J. Boswell. Photo: UAF Rasmuson LibraryAt the time of his appointment by Territorial Governor John W. Troy, Lingo was president of the Alumni Association of the College. He continued on the board until 1943.

In 1935, Lingo married John Troy's daughter, Dorothy, in the Governor's House in Juneau; they honeymooned in Mt. McKinley Park. In September they moved to Anchorage, where he served as registrar and receiver in the U.S. Land Office, Third Division.

In January of that year, the Alumni Association passed a resolution seeking to have the name of the college changed to the University of Alaska, a measure needed, they felt, to suggest the broadening scope of the state's only institution of higher learning.

According to William Cashen in his book, "Farthest North College President," the Board of Trustees "took no formal action on the Alumni request" but trustee George A. Lingo, who was a member of the Territorial House from the Fourth Division, introduced House Bill No. 97, which provided for this change and the bill received little opposition. It provided that the change be effective July 1, 1935.

Lingo also, said his widow, "never failed to accompany Dr. Bunnell to the biennial meetings of the Legislature to help in the attempt to obtain necessary Territorial funds to operate the college."

It shows the College basketball team in 1927 or 1928 on their trip to Southern Alaska. It looks like Ketchikan. Reading from left to right: Pres. Charles E. Bunnell (who finaced the trip), George Lingo, Donald McDonald III, John C, Jack Boswell, Richard "Bus" Boyd, Richard Anderson, Art Loftus, Verne B "Rusty" Reed, "Ted" Theadore A. Loftus, Coach Kenneth Abel. Photo: Rasmuson Library, Alaska and Polar Regions CollectionsShortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Lingo enlisted in the Navy and was assigned to Naval Intelligence in Sitka. He retired from the Navy at the end of WWII in 1945 as a commander and moved back to Anchorage.

The Senate Resolution cites Lingo's "many activities, including being a registered guide, working on a tugboat in Southeastern Alaska, traveling by dogsled in Interior Alaska, mining for gold all over Alaska, and building the first golf course in Anchorage."

In the 1950s, due to a severe bronchial condition, the Lingos moved to Palm Desert and built a home. George, who had counted painters Sydney Laurence and Eustace Ziegler as friends in Alaska, became active in oil painting, studying with some of the West's finest artists.

Avid travelers, the Lingos traveled twice around the world, and visited 60 countries, all without taking any formal tours.

Audrey Loftus, former UA Alumni Secretary, student,and Regent remembered Lingo as "a man everybody liked and looked forward to seeing."

George Lingo is also mentione in these articles

From College to University

University of Alaska Alumni Association, 1923-1939


Alaska Railroad passenger train and Brill Car at McKinley Park from the George Lingo Collection, 1930-1955


BOR file