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The Atwood Legacy

Perhaps no family has had more influence on the development of Alaska's social, economic and civic life than that of Bob Atwood and his wife, Evangeline Rasmuson Atwood. Over a period of almost 70 years, Bob, Evangeline and their daughters Marilyn and Elaine made change and progress a part of their lives. Their efforts and leadership inspired visions of greatness and hope among those who were part of Alaska in territorial days and in the years that followed after statehood became a realty.

Bob Atwood, a young newspaperman in Illinois, met and married Evangeline on April 2, 1932. Then a social worker in Chicago, she was the daughter of E.A. Rasmuson, an early banker in the territory of Alaska. Her brother, Elmer Rasmuson, became one of the state's greatest philanthropists.

Bob and Evangeline established their home in Alaska on June 15, 1935, when he became the new owner - and new editor and publisher - of the Anchorage Times.

The town's population back then was 2,200 - and it had only one street with a concrete sidewalk. But Bob and Evangeline saw opportunity where others saw nothing more than frontier village on the edge of the Alaska wilderness. Over the years, they worked together to turn Anchorage into a modern and vigorous city, and together they teamed as fighters for statehood.

When statehood finally became a reality on January 3, 1959, Bob Atwood - more than any of the many others who participated in that winning cause - was hailed as the one most responsible for the creation of the 49th State.

Marilyn worked on the developing state as a aide in Alaska's congressional offices in Washington, D.C. Elaine became a civic and social leader on the Anchorage scene, and, among many other positions of prominence, became the first woman to head the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. In the process, she was a newspaperwoman who followed in the footsteps of her father at The Anchorage Times.

Evangeline passed away in November 1987. Marilyn died in October 1994 and Bob in January 1997. Elaine, the last survivor of the immediate family, died at the Atwood home, the Marilaine, on Jan. 30, 2003.

Their legacy endures through the Atwood Foundation, now chaired by Ed Rasmuson, Evangeline's nephew and the son of Elmer Rasmuson. Through its contributions in support of education and the arts, Bob and Evangeline and their daughters still play a significant role in Alaska's civic life.

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