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Begich Honors Alaskan Niilo Koponen


U.S. Seantor Mark Begich issued a statement today about the passing of former state legislator Niilo Koponen.

“Niilo was a one-of-a-kind true Alaska pioneer whose contributions to our state will be long-lasting. After helping World War II refugees at a Finnish work camp, Niilo and his life partner and wife Joan, drove to Alaska in the winter of 1952. Like many Alaskans, he worked many jobs but perhaps the most important was teaching Fairbanks elementary school students. Niilo often served as the conscience of the Alaska Legislature during his nearly 10 years in Juneau, where he advocated for the most challenged Alaskans. Niilo was a fierce champion for his beloved community of Fairbanks and his entire state. His selfless public service to the Alaska that he loved will be sorely missed.”

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