Arctic Slope Regional Corp. and the North Slope Borough said they are saddened to learn of the passing of Jeslie Kaleak Sr., whaling captain and former mayor of the North Slope Borough. Kaleak passed away Jan. 14, in Barrow at the age of 65.
“Jeslie was a dedicated family man and a real leader in the Iñupiaq community,” said Rex A. Rock Sr., ASRC president and CEO. “He leaves behind a legacy of service that will never be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Kaleak family.”
Crawford Patkotak, ASRC board chairman, added, “Jeslie always fought to protect the interests of the Iñupiaq community. His lifetime of service to the North Slope and to Arctic Slope Regional Corp. has improved the lives of our people and he will be missed. Jeslie was a man of faith in God and set a great example for the younger generation. We all looked up to him and greatly respected him for his exemplary leadership. He served his people with honor.”
“What I remember most about Jeslie was that he was welcoming to everyone,” said current NSB Mayor Harry Brower. “He was about including all members of the community, embracing other cultures and empowering the youth. I remember him as a bridge - transitioning the old into the new and bringing people together to create a strong and united community. He was such a major contributor and a humble personality, who will be greatly missed.”
Kaleak Sr. grew up in Barrow, but left the North Slope community to attend school in Oregon. He was a devout member of the Utqiaġvik Presbyterian Church, worked in leadership positions at ASRC and served over a decade on the ASRC board of directors. At the urging of elders, he successfully ran for mayor of the North Slope Borough and led the fight for improved water and sewer conditions across the Arctic Slope.