End of Trail June 2012

Theodore Amos Schlapfer

Heart in Alaska

Ted Schlapfer, 91, peacefully passed away in Bend, Ore., on March 7, 2012. He was fully accepting of his own passing and clearly looked forward to the territory ahead and reuniting with his wife, Beth, who passed in April 2009. 
He was born in Fairfield, N.J., on Oct. 11, 1921—the second of three sons and a daughter born to Louis and Ethel Schlapfer. 
As a farm boy in rural New Jersey, he developed a love for the natural world that eventually led him to the University of Georgia, where he graduated in 1943 with a degree in forestry. 

Before accepting a job with the U.S. Forest Service in northern California, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II as an ensign aboard an LCI beach-landing vessel in the South Pacific. Immediately following the war, he safely returned to marry his sweetheart, Elizabeth Harper, in 1946. Departing from their homeland on the East Coast, together they embarked for the West Coast in a 1935 Ford and began a long relationship with the U.S. Forest Service. 
Ted had the privilege of living and working on most of the national forests in the United States, ranging from Alaska to Washington, D.C. Despite all of the places he served, he always reserved a special place in his heart for Alaska. He was the forest supervisor of the South Tongass National Forest from 1959 to 1963. His family called Ketchikan their home. He went on to serve as the regional forester for the Southeast and Northwest regions and eventually, in 1972, he and Beth retired to Cornelius, Ore., to fulfill his family destiny as a farmer.



Robert L. Jenks
Worked for statehood
Robert L. Jenks, 82, died Dec. 16, 2011. He first came to Alaska for the summer of 1948 and worked in a gold camp in the Interior. He returned in 1953 with a wife and baby daughter and stayed, raising the rest of his family there. He worked for statehood, going out to Washington, D.C., in 1954. He worked for the Bureau of Land Management in Fairbanks, New York Life Insurance, Doyon Ltd. in the land department, Interior Village Association and in Anchorage at the Department of Natural Resources. He and his wife, Arlene, were among the last homesteaders, proving up on 80 acres near Delta Junction, in 1963.



Donald C. Groves 
Managed Ketchikan Pulp Co.
Donald C. Groves died April 14, 2011, 
at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle of a sudden stroke, while taking his wife, Barbara, to the same facility for cancer treatment.
Don served as manager of Ketchikan Pulp Co. and started as a chemical engineer for the company in 1954. He was in charge of overseeing the actual fuel recovery system, the power plant that used more energy than the city, a water system that could supply a city of 30,000 to 40,000 people, the environmental department and the negotiating team for labor disputes. 
He was a member of the Rotary Club, Toastmasters and a past president of the Southeast Alaska Girl Scout Council.
He was passionate about boating and fishing, but the biggest prize he officially received was eighth prize in a pulp mill derby. The most important lesson he taught his three daughters was, “Get up, the fish don’t know it’s raining.”



Gwen Derkevorkian
Wales native turned Alaskan
Gwen Derkevorkian, 94, died March 12, 2012. Born 1918 in Abergavenny, Wales, England, Gwen came to Alaska in 1947 as the bride of Alfred Derkevorkian. They lived in Fairbanks, Valdez and then spent 52 years in Soldotna. The couple operated Derk’s Trading Post and Derk’s Ski-Do. Robe River subdivision in Valdez was one of their several real estate developments. Gwen took great pride 
in her grandchildren and her 
flower gardens.



Clifford Patrick Kelly 
Supervised Ship Creek water plant
Clifford Patrick Kelly, 93, passed away peacefully Nov. 21, 2011, in Anchorage. 
Cliff was born Jan. 21, 1919, in Flint, Mich., and was raised in the Carmel 
and Pacific Grove area of Northern California. In 1938, he traveled to 
Alaska by steamship to seek work and adventure. Arriving in Seward that year, Cliff worked as a longshoreman, as 
well as for the Alaska Railroad and 
the Territorial Fire Control in the Glennallen area.
He served in World War II as a Merchant Marine in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Mediterranean combat theaters. Cliff returned to Alaska in 1945, working construction in Kodiak and eventually becoming the first supervisor for the 
City of Anchorage’s Ship Creek water treatment plant, overseeing the facility during the 1964 earthquake. 
Cliff met and married Helen Savola 
in Anchorage, where they raised their four children — Beverly, Russell, Jerri and Dean.



Ada Marie Heinrichs 
Crafted jade jewelry
Ada Marie Heinrichs, 90, owner of Kobuk Valley Jade Co. in Girdwood, died at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage on March 22, 2012, due to complications from emergency surgery. 
Mrs. Heinrichs was born Aug. 26, 1921, in Coleman, Texas. She met her husband, Ray Heinrichs, at the cannery in Ouzinkie; they married in the summer of 1945. Their life took them from there to Kodiak, Kotzebue and Girdwood.
The Heinrichs’ opened Kobuk 
Valley Jade Co. in 1968, in Kotzebue, 
and moved the business to Girdwood 
in 1972.  



Notices are limited, because of space, to names 
of those who have achieved pioneer status through many years in the North, or who have made significant contributions to the state. Submissions for End of the Trail may be sent to eot@alaskamagazine.com.

 

 

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