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Heart complications claim the life of former county councilman

Former San Juan County Commissioner Alan Lichter died Saturday, July 6, at his home on Orcas Island. He had been hospitalized in early June with heart-related medical complications.  - Journal file photo
Former San Juan County Commissioner Alan Lichter died Saturday, July 6, at his home on Orcas Island. He had been hospitalized in early June with heart-related medical complications.
— image credit: Journal file photo

Former San Juan County commissioner and councilman Alan Lichter died Saturday at his Orcas Island home.

Lichter had reportedly suffered heart-related medical complications at the beginning of June, and elected to leave the hospital and return home to spend time with family. He was 82.

Championing a “smart-growth” political agenda, the former University of Kansas professor of American Literature was elected in 2004 to the then three-person county commission.

Running as a Democrat, Lichter, who embraced much of the local Green Party platform during his time in office, won a four-year term to the county’s top elected office by defeating Republican candidate John Evans in his bid for a fourth consecutive term.

Lichter was himself unseated in 2008, coming in third in a three-way non-partisan primary for the position representing Orcas West on the newly created 6-person county council. Former councilman Richard Fralick earned the post in the 2008 general election, defeating challenger Mindy Kayl.

Prior to entering local politics, Lichter taught American Literature, children’s literature, poetry and fiction at the University of Kansas. He was also a Fulbright professor at the University of Gdansk, Poland, during a long and distinguished career in academia.

During his four-year term as commissioner and then councilman, Lichter worked on environmental issues, growth issues, tourism, land use, ferries, affordable housing and marine issues.

He served as the chairman of the Task Force on Ferries and Transportation, chairman of the Veterans’ Advisory Board, vice-chairman of San Juan County’s Board of Health and the council’s liaison to the Canadian Gulf Islands and their governing body, the Islands’ Trust.

He is survived by his wife Kate Agape-Lichter.

— Scott Rasmussen

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