Former mayor, Mike Case, dies at 90
May 18, 2023
Former Mayor Mike Case, 90, died peacefully at the Alaska Veterans and Pioneers Home in Palmer on May 4.
The longtime community leader also served on the planning commission, the Haines City Council and the Haines Borough Assembly, as well as the boards of KHNS, Lynn Canal Counseling and the Friends of the Library. He was a member of the American Legion and active in the ANS/ANB as well as AA. Mostly though, people liked him. "Mike was one of the good ones," Borough Clerk Alekka Fullerton said, echoing many residents this week.
In 2014 Case ran for office for the final time at age 81 and won a seat on the Haines Borough Assembly. He did not complete his term, choosing to resign over an assembly decision he disagreed with. He was on the Haines City Council prior to consolidation and elected borough Mayor when the city and borough consolidated in 2002.
During his final campaign Case told the Chilkat Valley News that resource development was a major issue for him. "Some people are worried there will be economic development at the expense of the environment or our small-town way of life, and those are legitimate concerns. So I want to help craft the code where it is necessary, so we do have good, responsible economic development," he said.
Case was gentlemanly, convivial and an "organization man" who believed that the better part of government was getting things done.
"Mike was a true servant leader, always willing to lend an ear and hand and did so with all his heart," said former Haines Borough Manager Robert Venables. He had a firm grasp of Robert's Rules, ran meetings well, and tutored new assembly members on meeting etiquette.
Case was the last Mayor to paint the public safety building, in spite of its disrepair, and chose to match its colors with the library and administration building so residents could identify borough facilities and be proud of them.
Haines Borough Chief Financial Officer Jila Stuart said Case was her mentor.
"He was smart and observant, with a well-organized mind and good communication skills. His long career in the business world gave him keen insight about issues of finance and management," she said.
When Case was Mayor, a manager died suddenly, and he asked a former City of Haines administrator, now Catholic Deacon Vince Hansen, to serve in the interim. Hansen had already declined several requests to return to the office.
"But given the circumstances, and my respect for Mike, I agreed. I always found him to be level headed and reasonable, even when things would get pretty irritating. He was the kind of person that took notice of people's efforts, and was quick to make sure people had the full picture when evaluating things. His fair-mindedness came through in most everything he did," Hansen said.
Case married Pauline Rose Phillips in 1988 and became a father to her two girls, Mary Ann Marks and Betty Alice Martin. He also became a doting grandfather in their extended tribal family. Pauline grew up in Haines, and after Case retired, they settled here in 1999. Case was supportive of his wife's family and local ANS/ANB activities.
Case cared for his ailing wife for five years prior to her death in 2007. For her obituary he told the Chilkat Valley News they shared a passion for sobriety, and that as a featured speaker in many conferences, she was much more inspiring on the topic than he was.
Case penned his own obituary, leaving spaces to fill in the blanks for place and date of death. It began: "Michael V. Case was born to David and Alyce Case in Hartford, Connecticut, on April 7, 1933. That was the day beer became legal after Prohibition, and he often said the coincidence was prophetic. To the extent he grew up at all, it was in Vermont."He attended elementary and high school in Hartwick, Vermont, leaving in 1950 to join the Navy.After his discharge in 1954 he attended the University of Vermont on the GI Bill. He married Corinne Savage in 1956. Cathy Jean Case was born the following year. He graduated from UVM in 1959 and joined the General Electric Company in Schenectady New York, where his second daughter, Judy Ann was born.
General Electric transferred him to Phoenix in 1964. He worked various manufacturing management positions and spent free time with the Arizona Mountaineering Club. He was on the mountain rescue team and taught rock climbing and first aid classes to club members. He attempted to climb Denali with The Road Runner McKinley Expedition and did not summit but did fall in love with Alaska.
He moved to Anchorage in 1975 and with the exception of 22 months working in Hawaii, remained in Alaska the rest of his life. He worked on the North Slope, for military base operations and for Native corporations.
In 1975 he married Nancy Bodwell. Their son Patrick Daniel was born in 1983. They divorced in 1985 and their son's non-school time was spent with Case until he came to live with him in Haines in 1999.
In 1987 Case wrote that he "decided to investigate life without alcohol," and joined a 12-Step program. He wanted to be sure his obituary noted that he was, "very active in the sobriety movement for the rest of his life."
Pauline and Case's oldest daughter, Cathy Dean, preceded him in death as did siblings Linda DuCharme, LM (Doc) Case, Peter Case and Mary Case.
He leaves children Judy Erickson of Scottsdale, Arizona, Mary Ann Marks of Juneau and Hoonah, Betty Martin of Haines and Dan Case of Spanaway, Washington; brothers Terry Case of Hollywood, Florida, and David (Taffy) Case Jr. of Freedom, New Hampshire, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
His remains will be interred at Jones Point with Pauline's.
Erickson says the best way to honor her father is, "help a friend or neighbor, donate to your local public radio, encourage a child, be like Mike - be a good person."