On behalf of the Department of Alaska Native Studies and Rural Development staff, faculty and students I extend our deepest condolences to the family of Dr. Gordon L. Pullar Sr. who took his final walk into the forest on April 18th. His family including his son, Gordon Pullar Jr. his daughter in law Diana Rose Pullar, his grandson Little Gordy, his wife, Flossie Leavitt-Pullar, daughter Tracy Pullar Cascio and all other family members are in our thoughts and prayers.
Dr. Pullar was a huge part of DANSRD and UAF for 20 years. He retired in 2014 with Emeritus status after serving first as Director of the Alaska Native Human Resource Development Program and then as Director of the Department of Alaska Native and Rural Development (now DANSRD), but he continued to work on some in progress graduate committees into 2016. He was revered not only for his academic brilliance that shone through in a long list of scholarly publications, but also for his willingness to help all students no matter what the question was, and most of all for his overall kindness to everyone he encountered. He served on my graduate committee and then, when DANSRD hired me, insisted that I drop the “Dr.” and just call him Gordon. A difficult task for someone who had placed him on a very high pedestal but I am remembering it here and will honor his request for the remainder of this piece.
Gordon’s focus on teaching came about because of his commitment to students and his strong scholarly interests – – especially in leadership, in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and the events leading to its passing, and in cultural preservation and documentation. He was known internationally for his work in those areas. With those areas of expertise, he created the graduate symposium on Circumpolar & Indigenous Leadership, which was to serve as a foundation course for graduate students in Rural Development.
Gordon touched the lives of so many both within DANSRD and in the larger Alaskan community. He served on the Tangirnaq Native Village Tribal Council, the Koniag Education Foundation, the Alaska Federation of Natives Board of Directors, and as President of the Kodiak Area Native Association. He guided so many of us through graduate programs and then continued to mentor us as we went out into the world. We always knew we could count on him for feedback or answers to all the crazy questions that grad students come up with. His lessons were well learned by many, and he left a legacy of coursework and good solid advice which will be used long into the future.
We are happy that Gordon got to spend his last years with a wonderful wife and was able to take some nice vacations that were shared on Facebook. Those who met him along the way know that he had worked long and hard for that time off. Gordon was an athlete as well as a scholar and there will be no limits on that now. May his spirit soar with the eagles and his feet run forever free!
Service will be on May 5th at 3p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Anchorage.