Jay and Bella Hammond: An only-in-Alaska love story
Throughout most of Alaska’s history, a governor’s wife was generally seen and not heard, so little was known about what first ladies like Bella Hammond thought and felt about the issues of the day.
Her husband, Jay, was elected governor in 1974, a pivotal time in the state’s history – during construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and development of the Permanent Fund Dividend, a program Governor Hammond championed.
It’s been almost 13 years since he died. His wife, Bella, remains one of the state’s most beloved first ladies. She says the log house her husband built will always be home to her. It sits on the shores of Lake Clark in the Bristol Bay region, accessible only by boat or floatplane.
So how much influence did Bella Hammond have in the governor’s mansion? The first lady speaks out about love, life and politics this Sunday on Frontiers.
This week’s program also features some Hammond family home movies, shot in the 1950’s, that shows how the young couple carved out a life in the wilderness.
Bella Hammond was one of the first Alaska Natives to move into the governor's mansion. She grew up in Kanakanak, where she was educated in a one-room schoolhouse and learned to live off the land. Her future husband courted her when she worked at a fish cannery in Clark's Point and married her at the age of 19.
KTVA’s Rhonda McBride has a preview of this only-in-Alaska love story.
“Bella Hammond’s Alaska” airs Sunday, April 15 at 4:30 and 10:30 p.m. on KTVA, Channel 11. You can also watch at 8:30 a.m. on GCI Cable Channel 907.
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