Mayor Richard Beneville dies at 75
Mayor James Richard Beneville died in the early morning hours on Monday, May 11 at Norton Sound Regional Hospital while surrounded by good friends.
In January he suffered a stroke, was medivaced to Anchorage and recovered to the point where he returned to Nome and conducted city business. According to a press release from the City of Nome, he was recently admitted to Norton Sound after a bout with pneumonia that caused his hospitalization in Anchorage in weeks prior. He returned home to Nome just two weeks ago. He was last tested for COVID-19 on Friday, with a negative result.
Mayor Beneville was first elected as Mayor in October 2015 and died serving his third consecutive term as mayor. During Monday’s City Council meeting, John Handeland reported that while Beneville knew his time on earth was limited, he wanted to run for a fourth term and wanted to see the Nome Arctic Deep Port being built.
Beneville served also as the President of the Alaska Conference of Mayors.
He moved to Alaska from New York, and spent time in Barrow before moving to Nome. He worked for Alaska Commercial and in Nome began a long career at Nome Public Schools as Community Schools Director. He also formed the tour company Nome Discovery Tours and passionately educated visitors about Nome’s history. Beneville also was a major patron of the arts and inspired generations of Nomeites to sing, dance and act.
He sold the Nome Discovery business in 2018 and turned to city government, acting as Mayor for nearly five years, representing the city in Alaska and the nation.
A memorial service is planned but details have not yet emerged. He wished to be buried at the Nome cemetery in the direction so he can “see the planes come flying in.”
The family asks that instead of flowers, donations to be made to the Nome Arts Council or the Nome Community Center.