Zachary Joshua Loussac, Jewish Pharmacist, Philanthropist, & Mayor of Anchorage, Alaska

 

Zachary Joshua Loussac

Values Codes: I – E – L – P

  • Z.J. Loussac was Alaska’s first philanthropist. He was the first living Alaskan to turn over a good share of his wealth to his beloved land. He was the proud recipient of an honorary doctor’s degree from the University of Alaska which read: “Zachery J. Loussac — pioneer Alaskan philanthropist and public servant. You have shown by outstanding example how the fruits of the past may be kept as a heritage for the future.” – Jack Marshall

Zachary J. Loussac was born in Pokrov, Russia in 1882.

During the 1890s, while studying engineering at the Imperial Polytechnical Institute at Moscow, Loussac was labeled as a revolutionary by the faculty due to his participation in socialist activist programs.

In the late 1890s, Loussac found out that he was being watched by the government and was listed for banishment to Siberia.

He quickly crossed the border into Germany.

Along the way . . .

In 1899, Loussac journeyed to America, where he found a job running errands for a drugstore on the Lower East Side of New York City.

Around 1901, Zachary Loussac heard about the Klondike Gold Rush and decided to become a miner.

He headed West with his small savings, but ran out of money in Great Falls, Montana.

He obtained work at a local drugstore in order to earn enough money to return to New York.

In 1901, Loussac began studying at the New York College of Pharmacy.

In 1903, Loussac graduated from college and became the pharmacist at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel drug store.

In 1907, Zachary Loussac received a visit in his pharmacy by Senators Stuart and Piles of Nevada and Washington, respectively.

They encouraged his Western dreams and he bought a railway ticket to Seattle.

He reached Nome, Alaska in mid-1907.

Loussac tried mining for 3 months, but the work didn’t suit him.

He returned to Seattle and continued with his career as a pharmacist there as well as in San Francisco.

Alaska Gold Rush

In 1909, Zachary Joshua Loussac headed to Iditarod, Alaska for the Gold Rush.

He opened a pharmacy with partner, Jimmy Fay.

The pharmacy was located next door to Ike Bayles’ mercantile store.  Loussac and Bayles became lifelong friends.

In 1911, the great fire destroyed Loussac’s pharmacy.  He quickly rebuilt the store.

Then, in 1912, the Gold Rush ended and Loussac went bankrupt.

He found work at the Owl Drug Company in San Francisco, California.

Zachary Joshua Loussac campaigned for Strong to be appointed Governor of the Alaskan Territory.  When Strong was elected, he invited Loussac to come to Juneau to run a drugstore there.

In 1913, Loussac went to Juneau and, later that year, purchased a pharmacy of his own.  His late partner’s widow loaned him $3,500 to open his business.

In 1915, Loussac set his sights on Anchorage – Knik Arm, where the Alaskan Railroad was being constructed.

He and his friend, Ike Bayles, bought a plot at 4th Avenue and D Street on which they built a men’s clothing store (for Bayles) and a drug store (for Loussac).

By 1916, Loussac had two drugstores in Anchorage.

 

Zachary Loussac was a generous man.

During World War II, he provided free stationery to anyone who wanted to write a letter.

He also shipped orders the same day that they were received and arranged for deliveries of fresh-cut flowers for his customers.

In 1953, Loussac retired and moved to Seattle.

Civic

Zachary Loussac served as Mayor of Anchorage from 1947-1950 (2 terms).

Loussac also served as President of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, the Anchorage Times Publishing Company, and the Alaska Housing Authority, 

Loussac founded the League of Alaskan Cities.

 

Loussac served as Chairman for the War Bond drives during World War II.

In 1946, Zachary Loussac, with Elmer Rasmuson, established the Loussac Foundation in order to support social, cultural and educational growth in Anchorage. He endowed it with at least half of his fortune.

An avid reader, Zack carried books or magazines with him wherever he went, even, according to some, to the duck blinds while hunting with friends.

In 1951, the Loussac Foundation agreed to underwrite the construction costs, between $350,000 and $500,000, of a modern library on Fifth Avenue. It opened in 1955 with Loussac on hand among the dignitaries. In 1981, the building was demolished to make room for the Egan Convention Center.

Five years later, the current Z.J. Loussac Public Library opened.

Though Zack had died in 1965 at 82, his legacy is still visible today. Besides all the funds directed to the library from his foundation, Zack left Anchorage his art collection, 12 painting by Sydney Laurence and four by Eustace Ziegler, to be displayed at the local library. You can see them in the Alaska Collection.

Fraternal

Loussac was a member of the following organizations: Pioneers of Alaska, Alaska-Yukon Pioneers, the Elks, the Masons – Shrine and Knights Templar, and Pioneer Lodge (Igloo #15). 

Community

Zachary Loussac was a member of both B’nai B’rith and the Zionist Organization of America.

Family

In 1949, Zachary Loussac married Ada Harper.

 

Zachary Loussac died in 1965 in Seattle, Washington.

He is buried in Angelus Memorial Park in Anchorage, Alaska.

Legacy

The Loussac Foundation was responsible for constructing a modern library building in 1955 at 5th Ave. and F Street.  Though this library was demolished in the early 1980s, the city of Anchorage built a new library called the Z.L. Loussac Public Library.

The Loussac Foundation’s funds were later incorporated into the Rasmuson Foundation.

Loussac’s art collection was donated to the State of Alaska.

 

Sources

  • Eisenberg, Matthew. “The Last Frontier: Jewish Pioneers in Alaska Part III.” Western States Jewish History; 24(3).
  • Marshall, Jack.  “Loussac: Alaska’s First Philanthropist.” Juneau Empire; July 13, 2013.

Samantha Siver is Curator of this Zachary Joshua Loussac Exhibit.

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