Share Your Memories

Thank you for helping us remember and celebrate Don’s remarkable life. We’re collecting Don stories and photos via the following form. Submissions will show up in the collage below. If you’re having trouble, you can also comment on this Facebook post or email bettyramage <at> icloud <dot> com and we’ll transfer over your post.





Don’s Life

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Alaska ACLU, an organization for which Don cared immensely.


What We Remember

Use the form above to submit your memory. Click any image to expand to full-screen view.

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Remembering Don Clocksin – 1944-2020

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Remembering Don Clocksin – 1944-2020

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Remembering Don Clocksin – 1944-2020

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Remembering Don Clocksin – 1944-2020

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Remembering Don Clocksin – 1944-2020

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Remembering Don Clocksin – 1944-2020

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Remembering Don Clocksin – 1944-2020

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Remembering Don Clocksin – 1944-2020

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Remembering Don Clocksin – 1944-2020

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Remembering Don Clocksin – 1944-2020

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Chanda
Remembering Don Clocksin – 1944-2020

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In addition to his gracious and kind manner, Don’s sense of humor and appreciation of irony were so endearing. He could tell a good story and was always great company. And I will never forget the love that Don and Betty had for each other. Having lived with Betty for a short time while we were in law school, I can vouch for the fact that she deeply loved and missed Don when they were apart. She could not wait to graduate and return to Alaska. He was her man! They were meant for each other. I know his illness and now absence leaves a huge void. What a love story, Betty!

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I first met Don in Alaska but it wasn’t until Don and Betty moved to Washington that my husband and I were able to spend more time with those two. We really enjoyed Don’s storytelling, latest interests, and contagious laughter. He was so much fun to be with. His passionate love of justice, politics, and wise leadership showed through in our more serious conversations. We so loved being with him and Betty. Don will be remembered by us as a wonderful person who drew people to him by his kindness, joy of living, and love for his family and friends. He will be so missed. 

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Late 1984, Janice and I returned from a two-year sabbatical in Hawaii and Gustavus, almost broke, and pregnant. But then, it was my great good fortune that Don added me to his staff for 1985-1987 when he was Majority Leader. It was a talented staff, including Johnny Ellis, Nancy Groszek and Bonnie Gruening. Betty was also quietly present to make sure business was taken care of on issues of particular interest. Those two years were a master’s class in the legislative process.

To my double good fortune, Don didn’t fire me on at least two occasions when he would have perfectly within his rights to do so. Kind and forgiving man!

It was a joy and honor to work for Don. He was passionately engaged in his work. Being Majority Leader was a huge and demanding responsibility. The span of his legislative and budgetary interests was wide and deep, and he infused his interests with concern for others and protections for the vulnerable.

Legislative sessions nearly always turned into weeks of late-night work, frazzled nerves, short tempers and numerous anxieties driven by worries over the fate of bills and budget items of particular interest. It was sometimes dramatic and rightly so. I loved it. Don, I thank you forever for letting me be a part of that work.

In spite of the stress and anxieties, here are a few particularly entertaining vignettes that remain burned in my mind:

A well-coiffed Democratic Senator resplendent in pin-striped three-piece suit, entered Don’s outer office, gazed disapprovingly upon the British Labor party posters on the walls, Bonnie in her bare feet, and Bonnie’s baby Drew in his diapers in his playpen on the floor, and says; “Expletive!…. Next it will be the pigs and the chickens!”

Thank you, Don for enriching our lives.

And thank you, Betty for your many, many kindnesses. Our hearts are with you.

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Dear Betty and family,

I remember Don at many gatherings, keeping us laughing and/or absorbed with his wit, stories and observations.  We will all miss him, and I am so sorry for your loss.  With love,  Lynn Prunhuber

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My brilliant friend, mentor, boss and idol in the heady days of a Democratic progressive majority in Alaska. Family friends for over forty years. No tears. Wonderful memories of summer camp, trips here and abroad, great food and lively conversation, new experiences as well as the comfort of familiarity. We will celebrate Don’s life and rejoice in the knowledge his life had purpose and we shared in his vision quest.  

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Dear Betty and family, you are in my thoughts in these sad days.  What an honor to have shared so many happy times with you and Don.  From your wedding, sharing a house in Juneau, working in Don’s Juneau office, and many stays with you in Olympia.  I remember Don cooking posole for Christmas Eve dinner in the Juneau house, his kindness and generosity to everyone, and his lovely smile and laugh.  He was a gem and I will miss him.  Love to you all.

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I was privileged to have met Don during “Alaska’s brief liberal revolution” at an Ad Hoc meeting in Mountain View.  In the earl 1990s I most enjoyed working with Don as council to the Alaska State Employees Association ASEA/AFSCME.  He was creative and brilliant in his work on behalf of working Alaskans.  During those years we became friends and I always looked forward to seeing Betty and Don during my visits to Olympia.

My thoughts are with Betty and the Clocksin family.  Thank you Don for all your energy, brilliance and humor, you are missed.

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Betty and family, I’m SO sorry that Don has died, and I offer my condolences.  He did a huge amount of GOOD for the world while he was here.  I met him shortly after he arrived in Juneau and worked at the local ALSC office, while I was in the Attorney General’s Office and was on the ALSC board of directors.  We had a good system of lawyer-to-lawyer avoidance of litigation.  If he spotted an error caused by one of my clients (e.g., in the Department of Health and Social Services), he’d give me a call, and, when I agreed that there was an error (and Don was virtually always right), I’d get my client to correct it without having to go to court.  His concern for, and sympathy with, the disabled or under-privileged or handicapped or otherwise disadvantaged never waivered.  I was sorry to see him move to Anchorage, but then he was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives, and we had occasion to work on projects together in Juneau in that capacity.  And I often saw him in Anchorage when I was up there for ALSC meetings.  He was a wonderful guy, a great lawyer, and a magnificent legislator.  He achieved a lot of benefit for this world.  I fondly remember the last time I saw him — we had lunch together one time when I was in Olympia (perhaps about 15 years ago?)  I will miss him, and I extend my best wishes to you Betty.  (I wish that I had some pictures of him, but I don’t.)   Art  

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Knew Don since Juneau…..  in many ways.  Good Man, Outstanding Alaskan.

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I met Don in 1976 year I started law school. He exhibited all of the best traits of a lawyer with conviction and purpose. Heck of a role model. As well as a wonderful partner and father.. The world is worse without him But is better because he was here Sending love to all who will miss him.

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Via text with Tissy:

 I don’t have access to any photos of Don, but he was a partner in Wagstaff, Pope and Clocksin (including periods where David Rogers and Bill Bryson were on the letterhead), which was a well regarded trial law firm. Don had some big cases, including the Finkelstein case (election contest) where the Alaska Supreme Court recognized that Alaska courts could come up with a proportional formula to determine the outcome of an election when it was not possible to determine how many ballots had actually been impacted by the electoral error. That was a huge decision in trial lawyer circles that has guided future election cases. Don won another big case after he went to Olympia and with Sonosky, Chambers. It had to do with state employees but I can’t remember much about it. Lloyd Miller would know. When I get to a good spot I’ll pull out my computer and check out the Alaska Supreme Court cases he was involved in. David Rogers and I commiserated yesterday. We’re the last two living from that era. I’ll check back in with more.

Tissy found  the Supreme Court case about reapportionment and Doug responded:  

I’d forgotten about the reapportionment case. I just reread it. The important thing to say about it is that Don represented the Democratic Party in a case where the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that Hickel’s reapportionment plan was unconstitutional. That is huge, but, as you can see, he was one lawyer among many. In the Finkelstein case, Don was the “lead” lawyer. In other words, he carried the burden and responsibility of strategy, briefing, and argument. That’s what’s important in trial lawyer land, although it might be lost on the public.

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Rebecca Smith: Sending you all our love, Betty Ramage. What a great guy Don was. Every time I’m shouting at my mother to be heard on the phone, I remember hearing him doing the same, talking to his dad, down the office hallway.

Patty Ginsburg: I knew Don when he was a legislator and I a reporter in Juneau. He was always smart, thoughtful and respectful.

Molly McCammon: So sorry to hear. One of the best!

Lloyd Miller: I am so saddened to hear this news. In addition to everything said here, Don was also a supremely gifted partner during his time at our law firm. I so enjoyed that chapter in our lives, and learned so much from him. My heart goes out to you Betty.

Marilyn Heiman: I’m so very sorry Betty. Don was the best majority leader the AK state house ever had! I’m appreciative of all you both contributed to good public policy in Alaska!

Johnny Ellis Jr.: My love and support to Betty and their accomplished children. Don was my mentor and political hero. A proud and unapologetic liberal dynamo. He taught and gave me SO much and I am forever grateful He groomed me to run and win his House seat. He said he viewed his job as being a lobbyist for the folks who could not afford a lobbyist. I adopted that mantra. Don. Rest in Power !

Veronica Slajer: Beautifully said, all. Besides him being extremely effective , Don was always approachable, even for us youngsters back in the day.

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Betty, Bill and I send our love. How lucky we were to have known Don. He was a super talented lawyer and legislator, gardener, cook, and a very kind, thoughtful and unassuming friend! We are so sorry for your loss. We hope to “see” you on election night at Lisa and Lynn’s but of course understand if that does not work for you. Lynn told me your kids are with you. We hope you can share happy memories and support each other through this difficult time. Love, Jane and Bill

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Cliff Groh: Betty Ramage may Don’s memory be a blessing. I have fond memories of the 1980 campaign and working with him in the Legislature when I was on the staff.

Pat Justis: So sorry for your loss Betty, may you find comfort in the love that surrounds you.

Bonnie Boedeker: We are heartbroken to lose the kindest man we’ve ever known. You and Don are a match made in heaven, and I’m in awe of your strength now and during Don’s illness . All of our love. ♥️

Terry Gardiner: I enjoyed the years I worked with Don in many roles in Juneau. He was always professional, constructive, a problem-solver, such a hard workers and smart. Betty, you are in my thoughts.

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I am happy that your both made such a positive difference for Alaska. However, I am especially grateful you chose to move to Olympia. Our lives are significantly brighter and better because of you, Don and your family. I miss Don so much. Mr. Congeniality. 🙂 And Betty, as you know, you are a part of our family forever and ever. Lots of future adventures together. This world is so much better because of the Clocksin-Ramages.

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Glenda Webb Straube: Oh Betty. I am so sorry. Don was an incredible man. Always fun to be around. So damn smart, witty, and compassionate. I always loved how he was secure in his manhood. He grew into a feminist, I believe. Such a great father!! Not to mention what a rocking, cute couple you were. Sending much love to you, your children and grandchildren. 😢💔💖💓

Kristine Harder: So sorry to hear this sad news Betty 😢

Tony Vaska: Betty and family: my condolences and love to all of you.
Don was there as a friend and colleague always.
He was there for rural Alaska and Alaska Natives without hesitation which I’ve always appreciated and continue to do so. Don, my friend and colleague: Rest In Peace.

Veronica Slajer: Don with such a great guy, Alaska is better because of him.

Goodluck Joel: So sorry lovely Betty,so sad to hear this.my prayers to you and your Family.LOVE from Tanzania

Heather Bell: The names showing up on this page should all be in an Alaska historical magazine!!

Judy Erickson: Thinking of you Betty and your family and sending love. Don was such an incredibly smart guy and so compassionate. He gave so much to Alaska. He will be greatly missed.

Brian Rogers: Very sorry to hear of Don’s passing, Betty. He was a good man, a fine legislator. Alaska is a better place because of his service.

Rona Ruben: Betty, I am so sorry and moved as I look at pictures of you two together in healthy, happy times.

Barbara Englert: Gruenstein Blessings and hugs, Betty and your family. A kind and thoughtful man.

Bonnie Cudnohufsky: Hi Betty and kids. I am so very sorry to hear about Don. I have wonderful, warm, fun, engaging, stimulating memories of you and Don. Alaska has lost an incredible man who gave so much to this state. Love to your family 💕.

Terrie Gottstein: Oh, Betty…so sorry to hear this news…holding you in my heart…💕

Don Orr Martin: Our deepest condolences Betty. It’s hard to adequately express our sorrow and love and appreciation. What wonderful times we had together. We hold you in great esteem. All our love to the whole family.

Judith Kaftan: Sending all our love Betty to you and your family. such a huge loss of a wonderful man. ❤️💕

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It is with tears, that we know we all loved and respected Don, his smile his certain manner, and his saying, “Well, that is a complicated question.”

Thank you Betty for those wonderful summers. It was so wonderful of you to allow us to be there so many times and days.

I loved this man.

(June 11, 2013 Lake Louise, Banff.)

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Laurie Constantino: So many good memories of you both! Love you Betty! ❤️

Kim Metcalfe: So sorry to hear this news, Betty. Such a great guy. Thinking of you and your wonderful family.

Jackie Knoll: So sorry to hear of Don’s passing. It was a pleasure to know him. Our condolences…..

Debby Bloom Oh Damn…

Stormy Anding: So sorry Betty, sending much love. Glad I got to stop last summer 💔💔💔

Lida Van Vladricken: Hugs❤️ so sorry Betty such sad news. Love you Betty. My condolences ❤️

Brian Torres: So sorry for your family’s loss.

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Lynn Grotsky: Wonderful photo.

Lisa Brodoff: Sending unending love.. Don’s memory is a blessing
— Michelle Castanedo i hear his laugh when I think of him

Parquier Ália <3 Love you Betty

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Shannon M. Barba: Please accept my deepest condolences for your family’s lost. Prayers for you all.

Linda Blustein: Thinking of you and your lovely family and sending so much love. Holding you in my heart Betty.

Dwight Olson: I am so sorry to hear this news Betty. He was surely among the best of all men. May you be consoled by the love of so many of us Betty.

James Packard Love: Very sad to hear this.

Lynne Stockwell: Oh Betty, this is sad news. I’m sending love to you and yours. Love from Olympia.

Phyllis Caminear Brodoff: Thinking of you Betty at this sad time. Don was such a great guy. Hope you find solace in your many beautiful memories.

Jake Metcalfe: I’m sorry Betty.

Johnny Ellis Jr.: My love and support to Betty and the three accomplished Clocksin kids. Don was my political hero and role model and taught and gave me SO much. Rest in Power.

Philip J. Smith: Deep condolences, Betty. Don was a good man and a good friend. His commitment to justice for all will be missed. May he Rest In Peace.

John Greely: Alaska flags should go down for Don Clockin. The flag in my heart is down already, Betty. Best to you from Marla and me.
— Shari Gross Teeple replied: we’re working on it.

Karen Perdue: So sorry to hear Betty.

Douglas Pope: Betty. I am so sorry. Memories of Molokai will always be with us.♥️

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I remember baking my one and only homemade carrot cake at your house across from the Parkers. It was during someone’s race for office or something big like that. Don walked up to me and said how good the cake was. I felt so proud of myself. I remember how happy you both were that night. I loved being around both of you, you both always made me feel welcomed! Betty, I cried very hard when I heard this news. It’s like now, I feel bad for being away so long! Hugs and kisses !!

{Patrice Parker: Heather Bell, memories like these are great.}

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Laurie Constantino: So many good memories of you both! Love you Betty! ❤️

Kim Metcalfe: So sorry to hear this news, Betty. Such a great guy. Thinking of you and your wonderful family.

Jackie Knoll: So sorry to hear of Don’s passing. It was a pleasure to know him. Our condolences…..

Debby Bloom Oh Damn…

Stormy Anding: So sorry Betty, sending much love. Glad I got to stop last summer 💔💔💔

Lida Van Vladricken: Hugs❤️ so sorry Betty such sad news. Love you Betty. My condolences ❤️

Brian Torres: So sorry for your family’s loss.

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Lynn Grotsky: Wonderful photo.

Lisa Brodoff: Sending unending love.. Don’s memory is a blessing
— Michelle Castanedo: i hear his laugh when I think of him

Parquier Ália <3 Love you Betty

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Tiffany Villines: Love you my friend!!

Jana Varrati: 😊💕

Rose Mattison Betty, you never age.🧡
— Carl F. T. Harris Rose Mattison she ages…, in reverse.

Rachael Langen Lundmark Hugs❤️

Michelle Castanedo Sending our love ❤️💜😔

Marcelle Rice Hosack 💐

Julie La Fond Johnson Great photo!

Glenda Carino Betty, so sorry to hear the news. Hugs…

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Don Clocksin was a liberal political hero to me and Nancy Groszek and many others. He fought hard for underdogs like the poor and politically powerless. He told me he thought of himself as the lobbyist for the people who could not afford a lobbyist. I remember that when property owners wanted to rewrite The Landlord Tenant Law, Don was a strong advocate for  the rights of renters.

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Much of the work of the Legislative process is not glamorous, and in fact is tedious, time-consuming and frustrating. Someone introduces a bill. Next, there are public hearings with all kinds of written and verbal testimony.  As a legislator you realize, “The original bill is good idea, but it is a mess.”  Enter, Don Clocksin, a miracle worker.  I recall so many times all eyes turning to Don in his many roles around the Alaska Legislature. “Don….do you have some language?….an idea for an amendment?…..can you work with a group to develop a committee substitute”.

Don was one of the hallowed few you could turn to in Juneau to untangle those complex political knots, controversies and disputes.  Don would fashion a solution and we would be one step closer to converting a rough good idea into a good law that Alaskans would benefit from.