We host authentic stories from a variety of writers sharing their experiences of Growing Up in Anchorage during the mid 20th Century. We hope you enjoy reading these wonderful stories! For more detailed bios, check out our Midnight Sun Masters page.
ABOUT OUR AUTHORS:
Mother, Grandmother, Pet Mom. Aging dancer by day, amateur genealogist, doll house aficionado, gardener, writer, Growing Up Anchorage Website Administrator, Editor, Publisher and Writer during most other times. Anchorage resident from 1948 until the mid 1980’s. Worked in the legal field and at community colleges for many years before retiring. Lives in Oregon with husband and assorted furry children.
Newspaper and radio reporter, legal secretary, cook, condominium manager, ski resort worker, small business owner, electrician, and construction worker. Varied career? Nope, short attention span. Now living in Moose Pass, award-winning writer, world traveler before time and money run out, and blogger at Gullible’s Travels.
Gene Brown (aka: Eldermusician) lived in Anchorage from ’46 to graduation from AHS in ’60. He played lead trumpet with the Navy for seven years, and has been writing short stories for decades. He recently retired from playing trumpet in local swing bands. A widower, he also runs a land development business with his son.
Kath worked for the State Troopers until she left Anchorage in ’67 to become a counseling psychologist working overseas providing social services to American military families before returning in ’92 to work for the Coast Guard. Now a retired widow, she lives in The Villages, Florida. Kath said she’s never written a story before but is enjoying reliving the memories!
Jan began gathering the oral stories of her Athabascan mother and grandmother and their lives on the Yukon. COLD RIVER, Whispers From A Family’s Forgotten Past grew out of these early stories. She is a graduate of Anchorage High School and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. A former secondary education teacher, she has had a twenty-year career in advertising and marketing. Please visit her website at harperhaines.com
Dan moved to Anchorage in 1955. He attended Seattle University, and later joined IBM as a Field Engineer. Returning to Anchorage in 1964, he continued his career with IBM, and also taught computer related subjects for ACC/UAA. After retiring from IBM, Dan formed a software consulting firm. He presently lives in Portland, Oregon, and continues to work as an independent consultant to oil field service companies.
Jim was raised in the Anchorage and Spenard area from 1946 until he graduated in 1960 from AHS. He was the first Marine from the Great State of Alaska to join the Marine Corps. After two tours in Vietnam and 20 years in the military, he started his own business of apartment management and maintenance. Retired, he currently lives in Peoria, AZ.
World traveler, actor in community theater productions, teacher of writing and creativity classes, and award-winning feature writer for newspapers and magazines, MaryJo was an Anchorage resident from 1951 until 1995 when she moved to Eugene, Oregon. After a 19 year hiatus from publication, 2012 brought joyful inspiration for her to resume writing.
A resident of Anchorage since 1953, Mike has been active in many community organizations including the Anchorage City Council, Anchorage Borough Assembly, Boys and Girls Club, Rotary, Anchorage Opera, Repertory Theater and Anchorage Mental Health Association. He enjoys climbing, running, skiing, scuba diving, reading, writing, travel and opera. He is an avid mountain climber including Mt. Everest, as well as having run fifteen marathons. He is married, has two children and seven grandchildren.
Bill and Valerie:
Bill Rudolph is living a country life on an 80 acre farm in Gillingham, Wisconsin. Valerie Timmerman resides in Seattle, where she is Executive Director of the Seattle Rotary. They fly back and forth to be with each other, relishing the best of both worlds.
Connie and her husband Dick moved to Anchorage in 1967 where they raised two sons and enjoyed camping, hiking, and fishing. Connie wrote stories, became an herbalist and worked in the natural health industry. She and Dick ran an Herb Business & School in Salem, OR where Connie wrote newsletters and an herbal course.
Born and raised in Anchorage, Sabra loves to be outside. She received a Masters in Environmental Management from Portland State University. She dreams of revitalizing the art of letter writing, owning a sailboat named Besame, finding the perfect cabin property, and joining a community that values skills of the past.
Mike Byers is a 6th generation Alaskan. He was born in Fairbanks and grew up in Anchorage. Mike and his wife and daughter make their home in Dallas Texas. Mike is still very connected to Alaska by family and friends.
Born and reared in Anchorage, and a North Star trainee and 1962 West High School graduate, Connie went to the University of Alaska at Fairbanks in 1963, then to the University of Oregon. In college she worked summers at the Anchorage Times in the advertising department. In 1966 she moved to LA to get her ‘big’ city experience, then to Las Vegas to become an Advertising Manager for a national retail chain. She also lived in NY City for several months, moved to Oregon, where she resided for 36 years. Connie has had a juvenile book in the works, was prior adjunct college faculty for Adult Ed., and is a retired Language Arts and ESL instructor.
Melanie Lynch is a life-long Alaskan. A West Anchorage High School graduate with a B.A. in English and a minor in Fine Art from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, she attempts to balance the demands of two muses; painting and writing. The Federal Aviation Administration is gracious enough to provide her paycheck in exchange for technical writing and engineering support.
My family moved to Anchorage in 1957. I attended Anchorage High School, Class of 1961, the last year for the one-and-only high school in Anchorage. I took summer jobs in the bush during college and while at the University of Oregon, I met and married Sue from Honolulu. We were married in 1964 and took our son and daughter to Germany for a decade while I taught English at a German school. The kids still speak German like natives. I had later experience in the U.S. as a German teacher, Harley biker, programmer-analyst and horse trainer. I am retired now on a ranchette near San Antonio, where we enjoy the grandkids, our horses, dogs, cats, chickens and the wildlife. I inherited my Dad’s 5-string banjo and play a little bluegrass.
Anchoragite since 1950. Attended elementary and secondary schools and Alaska Methodist University, graduating from AHS 1960 and AMU 1964. Married Nancy Trombley 1964. 1965-7 Peace Corps teacher in Liberia, West Africa. Attended graduate school at UPS,Tacoma. Worked in management in the motorcoach and cruise-tour industries, 1970-75 New York City, 1975-85 Seattle, and 1985-89 Anchorage. Married Jo-Li Chiang of Taiwan in NYC, 1974. No children. Owned a small high-end bedding shop in Anchorage 1989-2009. Retired and moved to Seattle, 2013. Dale and Jo-Li now divide their time between homes in Tucson and Seattle. Dale enjoys music, especially playing the piano, the arts generally, cooking and baking, reading, writing, bicycling, and running.
Mike’s family moved to Anchorage in 1950. In 1965, while still attending East Anchorage High School, he decided on a career in television and motion picture production, and began working part time on the camera crew of the KTVA Channel 11 teen dance program, The Varsity Show. In 1968, the very popular (and talented) DJ Ron Moore left the show and Mike took over as host of The Varsity Show, using the name Mike Ray. He went on to become a Hollywood screenwriter, writing and selling family adventure screenplays and won an Emmy for his video camera work. Mike and his wife live in California, where he writes humorous stories about his adventures growing up in Alaska, and presents his stories live and in-person to groups and organizations.
A mother of three adult children and four granddaughters, Leslie was raised in Anchorage, Fort Richardson and Spenard from 1951 until graduation for AHS in 1961. She graduated from the University of Washington in 1965 with a degree in Economics and was the first woman bank examiner hired by the FDIC. (Thanks to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.) She is a “bean counter” with a career as corporate controller for small businesses and is currently employed by a CPA firm as well as the managing partner of a sports energy bar company www.electrodelytes.com. Leslie lives on a small farm in Maltby, WA with a menagerie of horses, donkeys, llamas and dogs. In her spare time Leslie participates in marathons and half-marathons. Her favorite event is the Equinox Marathon in Fairbanks.
Born 16 October 1954 to Lyle James and Elizabeth Jean Montbriand (né Stott) at the old Providence Hospital at 9th and L Streets in Anchorage, Alaska. The first child and only son, he was raised with his three younger sisters (Sandra Jeanne, Marisa Elizabeth, and Brenda JoAnne) and his maternal grandmother, Lenna Stott (né King) in Mountain View, Alaska. Surrounded and raised by an extended family of maternal aunts, uncles, and cousins, that flowed into Mountain View following World War II, he found a solid grounding in life and love in Mountain View and Wonder Park.
Education began with kindergarten at Mountain View Elementary School followed by Williwaw Elementary school, the one in the gravel pit on Bragaw at what is now East 4th Avenue, then back up Bragaw to Orah D Clark Junior and then back down Bragaw to finish Senior High at East Anchorage High School in 1972. A year of undergraduate courses at ACC was followed by a rather uneventful semester at the University Idaho Landscape and Architectural College. He returned to Anchorage for a final year of undergraduate courses then transferred to the University of Arizona for a double major in Landscape Architecture and Production Horticulture receiving a BS with Honours. Following three (6 years) of work for the Fed, State and VECO, he returned to the University of Washington for a Master’s cum laude and an award for the finest thesis of the year in the College of Architecture.
Randy’s career carried him to three locations ending up in San Francisco as a Principal at The Guzzardo Partnership where he has worked with enormous pride since 1989.
As for personal interests, he’s a polymath: language, classical music, poetry, literature, history, geology, geoscience, design, horticulture and genealogy as well as animal habitat studies. You name it, Randy has studied it in some shape or form. A keen interest from early on as been a desire to relay the family histories and stories that have surrounded his every waking moment. With these short stories he sincerely hopes to rekindle memories of Mountain View, Wonder Park and the incredible people without whom his life would not be as full as it is.
Tom was a resident of Anchorage 1949 – 1969. He spent five summers employed by A.D.F.&G.; Studied Biology, Theology and German in Alaska, Oregon, California and Switzerland. He pastored 30 years in Bern, Switzerland. After retirement, Tom pastored several years in S. Korea in the mission and in churches in Seoul and Mokpo. He made a 25 min. DVD (English and German) of the mission and country, and took a five week Korean crash course at Yonsei U. He has spoken in many churches and events throughout S. Korea.
I retired after a 25-year career at The University of Alabama, which included serving as senior writer/editor in University Relations and as adjunct professor of freshman and sophomore English. I unretired to become, with my husband, a parenting grandparent to our seven-year-old granddaughter. This role motivated me to begin my blog, Spittin’ Grits (www.spittingrits.blogspot.com). The framework of my life includes: growing up a military brat in the USAF and living many places; spending my high school years in Anchorage, graduating from AHS in 1961. Alaska is oversized, outrageous, and above all, spiritual. The AHS class of ’61 held its 50th reunion in 2011, and I was there. (Ed. note: Joanna, born on August 11, 1943, passed away on May 17, 2016 in Alabama. She will be greatly missed.)
Jerry lived mostly in Anchorage or other Alaskan cities from 1961 to 2004. He retired in 2008 after a career in ‘big iron’ computing, having specialized in operating systems and data base software. He is a 1964 graduate of WAHS and a 1972 graduate of Anchorage Community College with a BS in Mathematics. He currently lives in Salem, Oregon with his SO Marilee.
Bill Zersen was born in Kelowna, BC. His father died when he was 10 days old. His family migrated to Elmhurst, Illinois at the beginning of WWII. He lived there until he entered the Air Force Academy in 1956. He spent 27 years in the Air Force not including his Cadet time. He is a retired Air Force Colonel currently living in a 55+ Community in Laguna Woods, CA.
Born in old Providence Hospital, pre-statehood. Left for fame and fortune at 25. Instead, prevailed and found humor in a cornucopia of adventures and mis-adventures. Collected a marriage (long-ended), and four degrees (hard-earned). Immeasurably enriched by working in Japan, Korea, Kuwait, and Finland. Home is now “Track Town” (Eugene), Oregon.
Born in Cuba, Louis came to Anchorage with his family in 1954. Talented in singing, dancing and drama, he has had a successful show business career on Broadway, and singing on cruise ships and nightclubs in Las Vegas. Louis is retired and spends his time giving back by helping individuals in need.
Played, worked, married-played, children-2, bride-deceased, playing alone, but still full of prunes as they say. I sharpen knives for fun, became more aware of truth and the human comedy. Vowed to fuel this temple well, make sure laughter continues within and deal out love wherever I may.
I lived in Anchorage Alaska from birth in 1956 through my early high school years. Although this was just a fraction of my life to-date, the experiences during your formatives years seem to never leave you especially if you grew up in Alaska! I enjoyed the Alaska experience: baseball, ice-hockey, skiing, snow machines, fishing, etc. Our family moved out of Anchorage in 1972 after my father, Bruce, was killed while installing runway lighting at the Palmer airport in the late 60’s.
My 34 year career involved the development and support of business software for the schools of Washington State. I’m now semi-retired in Sequim, Washington on the Olympic Peninsula with my wife Terry (since 1979), where I enjoy playing trumpet in several local jazz bands, Port Angeles Symphony, serving in my local Church, cycling the town and Discovery Trail, golf, crew member for a local hot air balloon company, fishing, and generally staying physically fit as time allows.
I was born in Kidderminster, England, in December of 1932, and moved to Anchorage with my mother on New Years of 1948. I attended Anchorage High School for a short time. I married, became a citizen of the USA, and had seven children before leaving Alaska in 1970. Since leaving Alaska, I have lived in Fort Meade, Maryland; Karlsruhe, Germany; Huntsville, Alabama; and Hedgesville, West Virginia before retiring in Apollo Beach, Florida.
In 1949, my parents, brother, and grandmother drove up the Alcan Highway to Anchorage where my father had a new job with the Alaska Army Corps of Engineers. I went to the University of Wyoming in 1961 but after college, I returned to Alaska where I have lived since then. I married Lloyd and have one son, Dan. My working career was with several Federal agencies in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, and Barrow.
My hobbies include gardening, decorative painting, boating, riding ATV’s, reading, and now, sorting through, scanning and enhancing hundreds of photographs. My community work has been as an election official and chairperson in both borough and state-wide elections.
At the age of 72, I don’t ever think of leaving Alaska. This will always be my home—even if it turns into the Pioneer Home.
Born in 1944, Stevenson moved to Anchorage in 1947 after WW II when his father pursued an airline flying career. He attended Chugach Elementary, North Star, and Central Jr. High and is an alumnus of West Anchorage High (1963) and Alaska Methodist University (1967). He spent most of his adult life in Western Michigan in manufacturing industries. Married Annie in 1990 and retired to the Florida Keys in 1996 and, after ten years in the islands, moved to Horseshoe Bay, Texas in the Hill Country NW of Austin challenging his tolerance of snowless winters. Bill’s fondness of Alaska is intact and he revisits every three years, or so. He stands proud of two sons, has a delightful daughter-in-law, and three impressive grandchildren. Gardens, cooks, helps reduce world wine inventories, keeps Pembroke Welsh Corgis, reads history and loves to travel. A reformed ADD/HD, he enjoys spending time in his studio/hangar restoring classic cars and airplanes.
I moved to Anchorage as a young child in 1966. My husband Scott was born in Anchorage two weeks after the Great Alaska Earthquake. In 1995 we moved to Ketchikan with our three daughters, where I teach Sixth Grade. We love to walk the dogs…. even in the rain! I have varied interests – travel, camping, hiking, reading, writing, artistic endeavors – including watercolor, and wearable art! And soon, a new grandson.
Tam Agosti-Gisler was raised in Anchorage and graduated from West with honors in 1975. She earned a BA in International Relations from Stanford University, then her MA in Teaching, and taught French and Social Studies in the ASD for 22 years. After 6 years as director of the School Business Partnership program, she was elected to the Anchorage School Board and is currently serving her second term. She has been married to Hans Gisler for 36 years and they have three adult children. Tam is an avid traveler and photographer, has visited more than 70 countries and speaks several languages.
Danny Griffin was born in the territory, and he lived in Anchorage from 1959 through 1989. He attended Chugach Elementary, Central Jr. High, and West High schools. His father was Dr. Felton Griffin, who was the pastor of First Baptist Church for 30 years as well as on the Alaska Statehood Commission. He attended Howard Payne University in Education and music, and a Master’s in Music from Golden Gate Theological Seminary. He served in various ministries throughout the USA and overseas. He has directed choirs and orchestras professionally in the USA and Russia.
John Barber was born in Hobbs, New Mexico, and lived in Anchorage from 1968-1972. He attended Texas A&M University before embarking on an engineering career with Bell Helicopter Textron in Fort Worth, Texas. He married his lovely wife, Sharon, in 1986, and they have two sons, Royce and Robert. John is now retired and lives in Tyler, Texas where he cares for his Dad, enjoys various hobbies and is a member of the Tyler Airport Advisory Board.
Mary Carle come to Alaska with her husband, Bill Carle, in 1947. They were both schoolteachers. Bill Carle became principal of Central Junior High School and Mary taught Math at Anchorage High School, eventually moving to East Anchorage High School after its completion. Bill passed away in 1965 but Mary was determined to stay in Alaska in her home and continue teaching. She married Tom Hodgson and adopted two of his children. After her divorce from Hodgson, she never re-married, but enjoyed three grandchildren, Bridge, PEO, traveling, and the Senior Center. She passed away at 95 in 2014. (Ed. Note: Mary was my algebra teacher for two years and I remember her as being bright, enthusiastic, eager to encourage her students to learn, and an exceptional woman and teacher. She was a beloved teacher at Anchorage High School in the 1950’s.)
Gene was born in San Diego, CA. Lived in the Long Beach and Anaheim areas until early 1945. Moved to Anchorage early 1945. Up the inside passage on the SS Alaska with Dad’s ’42 built in ’45 Chevrolet on the deck. Graduated AHS in class of ’52. Served in Navy ’54-’58. IBM Engineer/Programmer/Manager ’58-’94. Retired from IBM. Total Systems Services Credit Card Processing Programmer ’95-’99. Retired second time. Currently living in Marietta, GA. WWW.GOUGHFAMILY.COM
Born October 8, 1961 to Maria S. and William D. Stott (diehard Alaskans) at the old Providence Hospital in downtown Anchorage. Unmercifully followed around one “older” brother, Alan Stott, who found reprieve after her permanent relocation to the Bay Area, California (San Ramon). Attended North Star Elementary School on Fireweed Lane, Central Junior High, and proudly graduated West Anchorage High in 1980 (Go Eagles!). Greatly enjoys spending time with daughters, grandchildren, two Beagles, and third grade classmate, North Star Elementary School crush, Richard Pollock. Living vicariously through memoirs of dysfunctional families who survive through love and humor, memoirs of triumph over tragedy, and historical fiction novels are a favorite pastime, next to sleep and caffeine.
Shana Ripley loves long walks on the beach with her horse, watching movies with her parrots, and romping in the backyard with her dogs. She is grateful for her patient husband. Shana lived in Anchorage twice, once as a toddler on Elmendorf, and again in the late 1960s. She’s a veteran of Muldoon Elementary and Orah Dee Clarke Junior High. She remembers visiting the sad lion at the A&W, which placed her on the path to a life with animals. She bought her first Breyer horse at a little store in Mountain View, which started her love of horses. Those Breyer horses are still on the shelf, watching her happy life. Her favorite quote is from Walt Whitman: ‘I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain’d, I stand and look at them long and long.’ Shana Ripley is excited to be a member of the writer’s stable at Growing Up Anchorage.