Story Time with Aunt Phil: Zachariah Loussac
The municipality's public library has long bared the name of Zachariah Loussac. He came to Alaska from the Lower 48 on three separate occasions to try and make his fortune.
This story starts in 1901, when Loussac arrives in New York, from Russia, The 18-year-old found a job running errands for a drug store in a Russian neighborhood, where he learned English and later earned a pharmacist's degree. But after a man showed him gold nuggets and told him about the Klondike, riches of the north were never far from his mind.
He met the first of his Alaska failures after landing in Nome in 1907. The sluice box he and his partners built, along with their mine, washed away when the snow melted and the creek water rose.
He opened a drugstore in a fine new 10-foot-by-12-foot tent. But a fire burned him out, so he pushed on to Ruby – he soon lost his business when the bank and Northern Commercial Company took over. By this time he was close to $5,000 in debt and had to return to the Lower 48 again to earn another grubstake.
The third trip to Alaska proved to be the charm when he purchased a lot on Fourth Avenue and set up another drugstore in the new townsite of Anchorage in 1915. During the next three decades, he found money rolling in by the bushel barrels and finally was out of debt by 1939.
Loussac, who three times was elected mayor of the city, decided to give Anchorage citizens half his wealth in the 1940s. The ZJ Loussac Public Library, located where the Egan Center is today, was built by the Foundation. It also made grants to several other entities, including Alaska universities, the Anchorage Community Theatre and Alaska Native music.
While city leaders said it was the greatest gift to Alaskans ever given, Loussac himself claimed the greatest thing that ever happened to him was meeting his wife, Ada, in Anchorage. She had a clothing shop in his building at the corner of Fourth Avenue and D Street, where Cyrano's is today, and lived in an apartment in the building. They married in 1949.
Loussac died in Seattle in March 1965 at the age of 82.
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