Jerald D. “Chip” Adair, Jr
Jerald D. “Chip” Adair, Jr. of Elverson, Pennsylvania, passed
away on January 18, 2008, at the age of 41. Chip was the
beloved son of his mother, Grete Lewis Perkins of Talkeetna,
Alaska, and father and stepmother Jerald D. and Judith G. Adair,
of Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. Chip is also survived by his
loving brother Christopher Robin Adair of Woodstock, NY, and
sister Sallie Adair Greer of Palmer, Alaska.
Chip lived in Talkeetna in the late 1980’s, and although he
returned to Pennsylvania, his heart was always in Alaska.
To honor Chip’s love of photography, a fund has been set up
through Denali Arts Council to promote photography for
children and adults in this beautiful place we call home. One
proposed plan is to give children cameras to take photos on the
opening day of Wild Woods Park, the new Talkeetna
Community Playground, scheduled to open in June. Each child
could then choose one photo he or she likes best, and then attend
matting and framing workshop, to be followed by a
photographic art show.
To know Chip was to love him, and in this way the family
hopes that his legacy will go forward through photography.
Memorials may be sent in care of Denali Arts Council, P. O. Box
404, Talkeetna, AK 99676, with “Chip Adair” written on the
The family would like to thank the community of Talkeetna for
their outpouring of love and condolences.
A memorial service was held in Pennsylvania, and a celebration
of his life will be held in late May at Cravers Right-of-Way farm
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Craig Buckley Wayne
TALKEETNA -- Craig Buckley Wayne was born Jan. 28, 1952, in
Tucson, Ariz., to Isabel Jean and Buckley Wayne. He passed away June
28, 2008 in Talkeetna on his way to one of his great fishing holes.
A celebration of his life took place Sunday, Aug. 3, 2008 at 2 p.m. in
the VFW Hall on Veteran's Way and D Street in Talkeetna.
He lived a beautiful life, one full of adventure,
love and friendship. As a young man, he served in
the U.S. Marine Corps and upon receiving an honor
-able discharge, he headed to Oklahoma to attend college, earning both an
A.A. and B.A. in Ag Ed.
After college, Craig ventured to Wyoming where he was lucky enough to
fall in love twice. He married Kelly Whitlock, and they had two wonderful
daughters, Stacey Ellen and Trisha Lea. The two divorced in 1983. Craig
remarried, to Leanne Kennedy. They were married for seven years.
After divorcing for the second time, he moved to Elko, Nev. In Elko, he
worked as a gold miner and found his calling as an aggressive and
determined union member, passionately filing grievance after grievance
after grievance… challenging unsafe and irresponsible mining practices.
He had always dreamed of adventuring to Alaska, and in August 2004, he
pursued this dream. His life in Alaska was filled with happiness,
friendship, fishing, hunting, gardening, dancing-finally, he had found his
Our father was a great man. He was fearless, kind, honest, hard-working.
He was a great cook, too. He always volunteered to be “C.B.” And,
looking back, we probably should have had one more helping of whatever
he made. He was good with words, a great country dance partner, and if
he was feelin’ fine, he would sing his heart out. He “adopted” many good
kids and touched many people, especially in their times of need. Many
will remember him most for his generosity and few will ever forget him.
He was preceded in death by his mother, his father and brother. He is
survived by daughters Stacey (David Edson) Wayne of Elko and Trisha
(Luke) Hanson of Victoria, Texas; grandchildren Trey and Jordice Edson
of Elko and Cord Hanson of Victoria; sister Karen Moore of Tucson,
Ariz.; nieces Laurie Moore and Robin Serna of Tucson; stepmother Patsy
Wayne of Tucson; stepsiblings Billy, Jimmy, Jack and Sandy Weining of
Tucson; and many nieces and nephews.
TALKEETNA -- Kathryn Shade, age 88, of Talkeetna passed away in her
home due to natural causes on Oct. 14, 2008. Valley Funeral Home is
handling final arrangements.
Michael J. Fisher
TALKEETNA -- Longtime, well-known Talkeetna resident,
Michael J. Fisher, passed away at his home in downtown
Talkeetna on February 8, 2009, following days of loving
attention shown him by his sister, Margot, and his extended
Talkeetna family of friends. He was 73 years old.
Mike was born to Thomas J. and Anne Fisher on April 7, 1936
in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in northern Michigan where
he graduated from high school in the town of Kalkaska in 1954.
He then left for California where he studied at the Northrop
Aeronautical Institute. Drafted in 1959, he was assigned to the
101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he
served for two years as a maintenance crew chief on
deHavilland Beaver aircraft. During this time he acquired his
pilot's license and later earned his certified flight
instructor/instrument rating and certificate which he continued
to hold for many years in Talkeetna.
Mike made his way to Alaska in 1962 and worked for a time as
an aircraft mechanic in Anchorage. He eventually traveled to
Talkeetna where he picked up odd jobs and befriended pilot
Don Sheldon who ran a bush operation, Talkeetna Air Service.
In those days flights were sparse and all maintenance was
performed by Sheldon, but during the late 1960s the operation's
traffic increased so much that Mike Fisher filled in as a part-
time pilot and mechanic and emerged as a valued and skilled
employee. During this time he constructed his own home near
the Village Airstrip.
Mike had an innovative and inventive mind and became known
for his machinist skills. Over the years he slowly built up his
state-of-the-art Talkeetna Machine Shop, which he operated
out of the lower level of his home. His sister, Margot,
remembers that this shop “was a creation that gave him great
self-satisfaction and the enjoyment he found in helping other
people to solve their problems.” It is also known that he did
machinist jobs as favors for people that were unable to pay.
Mike met Suzanne Guimaraes, a graduate of Cornell University,
when she came to the area to work as a farm hand at Milton
Lictenwalner's place just outside of Talkeetna. Both found a
soul mate in each other and, in 1968, became a couple and
eventually married. Both were intellectual equals and thrived in
their mutual love for lives of simplicity and frugality. Besides
their devotion for each other they had a shared love for
Talkeetna, for building and working their vegetable gardens, for
reading, and skiing, hiking and biking.
In the 1980s the two joined forces to build a wilderness retreat
on a five-acre parcel of land along a small, unnamed lake south
of Larson Lake. Their first creation was a small, modest A-
frame shelter built of used lumber and metal roofing panels,
which was thoroughly enjoyed for some years. By this time
Mike had ingeniously designed and built his own portable log
mill which he flew in pieces to the lake and assembled near the
site. After the two felled and peeled their logs for a proper log
cabin, Mike milled and notched them to fit. They built the
cabin themselves, and it stands today. Next, they turned their
minds to a lot they owned on the east side of Talkeetna, where
Mike built his comfortable and unique “indigenous cabin.”
Suzanne helped with the project and also built their second
large vegetable garden there.
After 23 years with Mike, Suzanne succumbed to cancer and
passed away in 1991. Mike's sister said, “After she passed
away a lot of the joy left his life.” But, she adds, that he
continued to nourish close friendships and to become a mentor
to younger people who were struggling with challenging
circumstances in their lives. Mike was also a mentor to many
pilots and aspiring pilots who began to arrive in Talkeetna, and
for many years gave accredited flight instruction to many
Talkeetna residents and others in the area.
An enthusiastic and devoted supporter of the Denali Arts
Council, the Denali Nordic Ski club, the Talkeetna Public
Library, and local area Food Banks, he contributed to numerous
small charitable causes as well. Towards the end of his life he
urgently encouraged all his male friends to be medically tested
for prostate problems, so that they might avoid the perils of
He is survived by his sister, Margot Dorn; his nieces Kate
Phillips, Nancy Szejbach, Kathy Allen, and Sally Klein;
nephews Michael Dorn and Tom Dutcher; several cousins; and
by a Village Full of Friends. At his request his ashes will be
scattered in places that he and Suzanne loved.
More than 250 people gathered on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009 at 3
p.m. at the Sheldon Community Arts Hangar in Talkeetna to
celebrate his life..
Dora Lynn Issel
TALKEETNA -- Dora Lynn Issel, 48, of Talkeetna, passed away at her
home, Jan. 28.
Born Aug. 24, 1960, in Anchorage to James Shade and Catherine Schelm.
As a lifelong Alaskan, Dora displayed her endless leadership skills
through working at the Livermore School District and the Big Su Lodge; as
well as serving as a member of the VFW and as the President of Directors
for the Sunshine Clinic. She enjoyed beading, gardening and reading
historical fiction. She will always be remembered for the ability to lift
people up and how she always went out of her way to help people.
Dora is survived by her husband George Issel of Talkeetna; daughter,
Samantha Issel of Talkeetna; son, James Shade of Humbolt County, Calif.;
and sister, Cathy Nelson of Anchorage.
She was preceded in death by her parents.
There will be a private family gathering this summer.
Arrangements were entrusted to Valley Funeral Home.
--Reprinted from the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman
Joseph “Jay” F. DePeter
Joseph “Jay” F. DePeter, Jr., 47, died suddenly Tuesday, April 21, 2009 at
his home in Biddeford, Maine. Born April 27, 1961 in Portland he is the
son of Joseph F. DePeter, Sr. and Sally Hanson McMennamin.
Jay graduated from Westbrook High School and then served in the United
States Air Force stationed in Germany and Japan. He graduated from
Husson College, Summa Cum Laude with a BS and went on to graduate
from Seattle University, School of Law. Jay received his LLM from the
University of Washington and was a member of the Washington State Bar.
Jay enjoyed journaling, writing short stories and outdoor survival guides.
He volunteered at various non-profit organizations throughout his life,
always having a soft spot for the underdog. His true love was for the
outdoors. An avid sportsman, Jay spent much of his time fishing, hunting
and mountain climbing. Having lived in Talkeetna, Alaska from 2004-2008,
he considered it home and its residents family. He was loved and will be
missed by his family and friends.
Besides his mother Sally of Portland, his father Joseph Sr. and his
significant other Nancy Mathieu of Biddeford, he is survived by his brother
Thomas R. DePeter and his wife Renee of Westbrook; two nieces Marie
and Emilia DePeter and several aunts, uncles and cousins.
Visitation will be Saturday, April 25, 2009 from 9-10 a.m. at Jones, Rich &
Hutchins Funeral Home, 199 Woodford St., Portland with a funeral service
to follow at 10 a.m. at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Jay’s favorite charity in
Alaska, the “Free Box” through his brother, payable to Thomas DePeter,
c/o Jones, Rich & Hutchins Funeral Home, 199 Woodford St., Portland,
ME 04103. depeter-joseph-obit-0001Local Talkeetna residents may give
donations directly to the Free Box. They will collect names and send all
cards to Jay’s brother.
You are invited to share your thoughts, condolences and fond memories
with the DePeter family by visiting Jay’s guest book at www.mem.com
Robert A. Durr
TALKEETNA -- Alaskan author and artist Robert A. Durr died suddenly
February 10, 2009, of congestive heart failure at his home in Talkeetna. He
Durr was born August 27, 1925, in Brooklyn, New York, to Grace and
Alfred Durr. After serving stateside in the U.S. Army Air Corps during
World War II, Durr married Carol Betty Lipps on September 6, 1948, and
began to pursue his education in English literature. Durr received a B.A.
from Hofstra College, an M.A. from the University of Connecticut and a
Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. As a graduate student, Durr was
honored to have spent time with famed American author H. L. Mencken in
that author’s last years. Afterwards, Durr’s essay, “The Last Days of H.
L. Mencken” was published in the Yale Review.
Durr began teaching at Syracuse University in 1957 where he eventually
became a full professor of English and head of his department. In and
around this time he published two book length scholarly works, On the
Mystical Poetry of Henry Vaughn and Poetic Vision and the Psychedelic
After spending a full year on sabbatical in the Wood River Lakes area of
Alaska in 1963/64, Durr realized a lifelong dream when, in 1968, he and his
family moved permanently to Alaska, settling initially on a remote shore of
Lake Iliamna. Two years later the family relocated to open-to-entry land
north of Talkeetna where Durr lived on the shores of “Back Lake” in a
cabin in the woods until two and a half years ago when, due to health
difficulties, he relocated to Talkeetna.
Durr worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska’s Bristol Bay from 1964
through 1970. In the 1970s, Durr rediscovered an old love: visual arts, and
went on to become well known in Alaska’s art community in the 1980s,
winning numerous awards for his artistic endeavors.
In the 1990s Durr returned to writing, publishing two non-fiction novels
with St. Martin’s Press in New York: Down in Bristol Bay: High Tides,
Hangovers, and Harrowing Experiences on Alaska’s Last Frontier (1999)
and The Coldman Cometh: A Family’s Adventure in the Alaska Bush
His family says, “Our father was an adventurer in all areas of his life, from
the decision to move his family to Alaska to his intellectual and artistic
pursuits, and he lived life to the fullest. He loved nothing more than his life
in his cabin at Back Lake, where he could hear the wind in the trees, the
loons on the lake and the soft hiss of the fire in his woodstove. He also felt
blessed to be part of the wonderful community of Talkeetna. We loved
him, and he will be greatly missed.
“His daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth, would like to publicly acknowledge
their older brothers, Steven and Jonathan Durr, for caring for their father in
his years of poor health and allowing him to enjoy the life he loved for as
long as was possible. The family as a whole would like to thank Sunshine
Community Health Center, Access Alaska, Dr. Scully with the Alaska
Heart Institute and the Talkeetna and Trapper Creek EMS.”
Durr was preceded in death by his former wife and lifelong friend, Carol L.
Durr, and his sister, Juliet.
He is survived by his sons, Steven Durr and Jonathan Durr of Talkeetna
and Robert Woods of Seattle, WA; daughters Sarah Birdsall of Talkeetna
and Elizabeth Kay of Grants Pass, OR; grandsons Christopher Birdsall of
Juneau and Fairbanks and Zachary Kay of Grants Pass, OR;
granddaughters Cara Durr of Anchorage, Jessica Durr of Daytona Beach,
FL, Jennifer Birdsall of Talkeetna and Ashland, OR, and Annabelle Woods
of Seattle, WA. He is also survived by many friends both near and far.
Memorial services were held Feb. 20, 2009 at 6 p.m. at Whole Wheat Radio
in Talkeetna. Memorial donations may be sent to Sunshine Community
Health Center, P.O. Box 787, Talkeetna, AK, 99676.