APW Leaders and the 1964 Earthquake (History)

History compiled in 2001 by Pat Richardson, Historian

Three years after APW’s beginning, on March 27, 1964, the largest earthquake ever recorded in North America (9.2 on the Richter scale) jolted Alaska, causing $537 million in damage. APW members covered the devastation.

Member Betzi Woodman was supplementing her freelance income by serving a three-month trial as a Reuters International correspondent. She phoned the first eyewitness out-of-state account, beating Associated Press and United Press International by 6 and 7 minutes, respectively. She had persuaded the Army to let her use their long-line communication to call New York. Her stringer career was launched. She bought her first car with her bonus check for the scoop. She remained with Reuters for 24 years.

Woodman became an APW leader with extraordinary vision and energy. She mentored younger members, encouraging them to develop their leadership and organizational skills. When she expected them to run for office or to organize a workshop, they found they could do much more than they thought they could.

Another member, Genie Chance, who would become APW’s third president three years later, was a radio and television reporter in Anchorage when the earthquake struck. She broadcast over radio station KENI for 59 continuous hours, providing rescue information and helping reunite families. She also directed efforts of other volunteers, helping to organize transportation, coordinate public shelter, and rescue personnel. She received a “Golden Mike” award from McCall’s magazine for her dedicated earthquake aftermath work. Later, she became a state legislator.