End of the Trail - November 2011

John Hoover, Cordova Sculptor

John Hoover used imagery and tales from Alaska Native traditions and transformed them into contemporary art. His work was exhibited internationally, and prized by collectors, corporations and museums. Hoover died on Sept. 3 at age 91. Hoover was born in Cordova to a Dutch father and an Aleut-Russian mother. Before he was an artist, he was a ski instructor in Sun Valley, Idaho, and a commercial fisherman in Alaska. In 1960, he built a 58-foot seiner in his backyard, “without much in the way of power tools,” he told the Anchorage Daily News. After he was finished he realized that he had just built his first “sculpture,” and his art career began. Now, his large sculptural work can be found in Anchorage at the Egan Civic and Convention Center, the Alaska Native Medical Center and the Alaska Native Heritage Center, and his seiner is still a working vessel based in Port Townsend, Wash. The Anchorage Museum held a retrospective of his work in 2002 titled “John Hoover: Art and Life,” featuring an illustrated biography and appreciation of his work. In May, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Alaska Anchorage.


Charlie G. Adams, 85, died July 16. He moved to Juneau in 1969 to become director of corrections for the State of Alaska, and later the executive director of the Criminal Justice Planning Agency. He retired in 1983. Adams was ordained as priest in the Episcopal Church and he was a founding member of The Juneau Glory Hole, which provides food, shelter and support.

Alvin A. Benson, 81, died Aug. 7. With his wife, Margaret, and son, Brian, he lived in Fairbanks and Anchorage, and settled in Palmer, where he bought a farm. Benson enjoyed fishing and hunting with his horses and trained champion Labradors and participated in retriever field trials.

Maxine R. Boyd, 85, died Aug. 26. She had three children with her husband, Edward Sittler. She later married Raymond Russell Boyd. Together they had six children. She and Raymond settled in Fairbanks and loved family gatherings, including fishing, clamming and camping together.

Ernest M. Chase, 66, died Aug. 13. Chase was an airframe and power plant mechanic, helicopter pilot, fixed-wing commercial pilot, and an inspection authorization mechanic. He also had his flight instructor rating. He worked as a commercial fisherman, fire fighter, driller on workover rigs for Exxon and commercial gold miner. He owned an operated Grayling Air Service, Grayling Cash and Carry General Store.

Dale E. Depue Sr., 54, died Aug. 20. He lived in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Bethel. He was proficient in repairs in all things mechanical, electrical and hydraulic, and often repaired trucks, mining equipment and tools. Depue enjoyed hunting and fishing.

Richard Bruce Engen, 83, died July 15. He earned a masters of library science degree and worked for the Seattle Public, Inyo-Mono County, and Oregon State Libraries before getting his dream job as director of the Alaska State Library. During his tenure, the number of libraries in Alaska increased from 37 to more than 100. He developed a statewide library network and a state film library, and the Alaska State Museum also come under his directorship. He was known as the “father of Alaska libraries.” He loved boating, fishing, acting in community theatre, model railroading, stamp collecting, carpentry, art and music.

Helen Vezina Ertwine, 98, died Aug. 8. In Anchorage, she owned and operated Vezina Furniture with her husband, Hank Vezina. After his death, she married Bud Ertwine. They were active members of the Pioneers of Alaska and the Alaska Senior Center. She was also a member of the Alaska FCI and Flattop-Forget-me-not FCE clubs. She loved card games. Walter R. Griffeth, 92, died March 29. He was awarded four Bronze Stars, the Air Medal, and the Soldier’s Medal for his service in the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war, he joined Pan American World Airways as a dispatcher and later became an airport station manager. Griffeth was a member and past Grand Knight of the Kights of Columbus and he and his wife, Ann, were active members of the Catholic church.

David Frederic Thomas Lihou Sr., 73, died July 13. After serving in the U.S. Army, he moved to Sitka to work for his uncle at Salvore Towing. In Sitka he met and married Cecilia Margaret Jacoby. They were married 44 years and had two children. He was a marine radio operator for the Alaska Marine Highway System aboard the M/V Wickersham. That launched a long career as a professional marine radio operator for RCA which later became Alascom. He also worked for the City of Sitka Public Works and State of Alaska DMV.

Robert Andrew Lyle, 60, died Aug. 17. He was raised on his family’s homestead on Chena Hot Springs Road. Lyle worked for Sourdough Express and Union Oil Co. as a mechanic before and during the building of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. Later, he worked for the Boat Shop in Fairbanks for 20 years. He loved trains and model trains, computers and playing clarinet.

Miriam Prudence Monette, 60, died July 7. In 1970, she moved to Juneau with her husband, Harold “Pete” Monette, where they raised three children. Monette worked for the Juneau Police Department as a police officer, and later as a dispatcher and occasional crime scene photographer. She was promoted to chief dispatcher, the position she held until retirement. After retirement, she worked as a caregiver. She loved the outdoors, fishing, cooking, gambling, traveling and entertaining.

Florimond Emile Schalk Sr., 89, died Aug. 22. In 1958, he moved to Fairbanks with his wife, Nina, and their three children. He worked many jobs, such as stocking vending machines, working in the culinary union and driving school buses. He retired at 65 and stayed busy volunteering for the downtown soup kitchen.

Julia Walker, 52, died Aug. 13. She was born in Anvik, earned a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education and worked for the Iditarod Area School District. Walker was a longtime member of the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative and was affiliated with Episcopal Church.


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