July-August 2011: End of the Trail

Beverly J. Gurtler World Traveler and Volunteer

Courtesy Gurtler Family  

Beverly Gurtler affected many people’s lives as a dedicated teacher and mother, traveler and volunteer. She died March 20 at the age of 76.

Gurtler was born in Lancaster, Wis. and grew up in Idaho. She graduated from South Freemont High School, and continued her education at Ricks College, where she graduated with a bachelor of education in 1956. After graduation she went on her first tour of Europe. During her travels she made many pen pals and lifelong friends.

After statehood, she drove the Alaska Highway to Anchorage for a teaching job, and later met her husband, Ed. They were married Aug. 5, 1960, in Twin Falls, Idaho. After the birth of her sons Ed Jr. and Kresent, the family settled in the Matanuska Valley.


Gurtler was known as “Mrs. G” in Palmer, where she taught junior high school physical education for more than 30 years. She developed a drill team and several other athletic programs. The drill team traveled as far as Southern California to march in events such as the Rose Bowl Parade.

When she wasn’t traveling, Gurtler would spend her summer months teaching Red Cross swimming programs in local lakes and streams. She was instrumental in getting pools and swimming programs in new high schools being built in the Matanuska Valley in the 1970s. Gurtler continued to teach swimming long after retirement. She continued her education by taking night and summer classes through the University of Alaska Anchorage and graduated with a master’s degree in education in 1976.

After retirement, she joined the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and earned many awards and citations. During the summer she spent time on boat launches around the state doing volunteer safety inspections.

Gurtler was a crack shot, and hunted and fished to provide food for her family. She could ride a horse, fly an airplane, drive a snowmachine and double-clutch a truck.

Gurtler loved to play music and travel. She was an accomplished musician who played clarinet and saxophone with several groups. She traveled to every continent except Antarctica, and spent several months on archeological digs in various countries.

Margaret Vera “Peggy” Brown, 87, died April 17. In 1951, she drove the Alaska Highway with her husband, George. The couple settled in Anchorage and built the Lucky Wishbone restaurant, which has been in operation for more than 55 years. The couple was named the Alaska Small Business Person(s) of the Year in 2002.

Earl Russell Engel, 87,  died March 19. In 1949, he drove to Alaska with friends, settling in Homer. Engel commercial fished for salmon and operated Turkington and Engel Construction. Eventually, he became superintendent of heavy construction. He married Evelyn Faulk and the couple had three children.

Aner Erickson, 94, died Jan. 3. He was born in Shanghai, China, and attended Cliff School in Ketchikan and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Erickson graduated from the Montana School of Mines with a mining and engineering degree. He was involved in many important Alaska engineering projects, including the Silvis Lake Dam Project, Distant Early Warning System, White Alice Communication System and 1964 earthquake restoration.

Richard Galleher, 87, died May 13. He flew in Alaska since 1950, living in Bethel, Dillingham, Red Devil, Anchorage and Nome. Galleher bought Munz Airways and started Munz Northern Airlines, which served western Alaska. He was a U.S. Army Air Corp veteran and a member of Pioneer Igloo No. 1.

L. Hansel Hebert, 93, died March 31. In 1948, he drove to Alaska to live in Haines with his wife and their three sons. He worked as a carpenter, building churches in Barrow, Wainwright, Yakatak and Haines. Later, Hebert built churches, hospitals and schools for the Presbyterian Board of Missions in Alaska and abroad.

Dexter Frank Lall, 78, died March 29. He was a commercial fisheries biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. In 1992, he retired as the Port Moller site plant manager for Peter Pan Seafoods, Inc.

Clifford Dale Lobaugh, 74, died Jan. 5. While in college, he worked for the Fisheries Research  Institute in Bristol Bay and on the Kenai River. He attended veterinary school at Washington State University, where he met and married Sharron McGinnis. After graduating, he moved to Juneau and started in first private veterinary practice in Southeast Alaska and the Yukon Territory. He loved hunting, fishing, hiking and gardening.

Jacob Nash (Tanqiaraq), 84, died Feb. 10. In 1952, he married Mary Kokrak. Together they raised five boys, four girls, five grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Nash was an Alaska National Guard veteran, and retired from the Bureau of Indian Affairs Chevak Day School. He served as deacon at the Sacred Heart Church in Chevak. He commercial-fished in Kokechik Bay, and made annual moose hunting trips to the Yukon River.

Lloyd A. Nault, 90, died Jan. 17. He earned a degree in chemical engineering from Michigan Tech University. After being honorably discharged from the military he moved with his family to Ketchikan, where he was employed by the Ketchikan Pulp Company for 30 years, eventually becoming chief chemist. He was appointed president of the Alaska School Board, a member of the Alaska Arts Council and taught courses at Ketchikan Community College, which he also attended.

Constance Helen Paddock, 90, died March 17. She was raised in Fairbanks, graduated from Eklutna Indian High School and later from Heskell Indian Junior College with a degree in business administration as the top female graduate. She moved to Juneau where she worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and met her husband, Joe. They raised three children and operated a construction business.

George F. Ridley, 78, died March 1. He was born in Ketchikan and worked for the Ketchikan Pulp Company for 21 years. Ridley was a member of the International Asbestos Union, and made his livelihood in the construction industry. He was an active member of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, Sitka Tribe of Alaska and Sitka Tribal Council, was enrolled with Sealaska Corp., and was a liaison to the Sitka Assembly and to the Sitka Economic Development Association.

Vernon S. Ross, 100, died Jan. 11. He and his wife, Sylvia, were married in 1935 and spent the next eight years operating a trap line on Alexander Creek. In 1945, they began commercial fishing in Cook Inlet. Ross also worked for the Anchorage School District and was a big-game guide. In 1972, he moved to Seldovia, where he continued to fish until 2002.

Virginia Lee Simonds, 89, died Dec. 25. In 1949, she traveled with her husband and two young daughters to Juneau, where she worked for Alaska Communications System. In 1956, the family moved to Annettte Island where she served as the United States Postmaster.

Lolete Nevalasca Urbano, 70, died Jan. 5. In 1975 she moved with her husband to Kodiak, where she was employed with the Kodiak Island Borough School District as a bilingual aide for 23 years. Urbano was a loving mother and grandmother.

Oscar Watsjold, 93, died Jan. 9. In 1939, he moved to Seward where he raised three children with his first wife, Inger. In 1966, Watsjold married Nell Mainard. In Seward, he owned a butcher shop, home oil delivery company, and Watsjold’s Fuel. He volunteered for the Seward Volunteer Fire Department for 69 years, serving as fire chief from 1962 through 1982, and played a major role during the 1964 earthquake reconstruction.

Gilbert Lynn Ziemer, 101, died March 21. He joined the Alaska Territorial Department of Fish and Game in 1974. He was the director of fisheries engineering and chief engineer in Alaska upon retirement. Ziemer received the Meritorious Achievement Award of the State of Alaska. He had four children, five grandchildren, three great grandchildren, and one great, great grandchild.

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