LaDessa Hall Nordale
A Fairbanks resident for 72 years, LaDessa Hall
Nordale, 95, died Feb. 2, 1995 at the Fairbanks Pioneers’ Home.
Nordale arrived in
Fairbanks in 1923 to teach business administration at the Alaska Agricultural College and
School of Mines, now the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Friends say she was a warm, loving
woman who was not afraid of anything.
In 1924, she returned to the states and brought back
her car on the steamship to Valdez.
As the first woman to drive along from Valdez to
Fairbanks over the primitive Richardson Highway, her progress was telegraphed ahead by U.S.
Signal Corps operators. One wire read, "She just went by here driving like hell. She must
have been doing 20 miles an hour!"
In 1929 she went to work as a teacher at Fairbanks High
School. Former students recall her as having a tremendous sense of humor, loving to go to
parties, a competent teacher, and a confident person who would stand up to authority.
Nordale served on various state boards and commissions, and in 1952 was appointed U.S.
Territorial Commissioner for Alaska. Donna Hupprich, who worked in the recording office,
recalled the day two local prostitutes came to the courthouse arguing over ownership of a
poodle. They had just given each other hair perms, and the solution was dripping all over
their faces. With the dog on the counter, each was loudly trying to prove ownership of the
dog by putting him through his trick routines. Soon Nordale threw open her door and asked
what the commotion was about. Stifling her laughter, Nordale settled the case by telling
the women they must share the dog.
In 1963 Nordale became Alaska’s Commissioner of Revenue.
Of all her achievements, Nordale was said to be most proud of her honorary doctorate of law
from the University of Alaska, and of being the only woman listed among Famous Alumni by the
University of Idaho at Moscow.
Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner