On December 3rd, 2013 Richard Dale Elson died at home in Anchorage, Alaska, surrounded by loved ones. He is survived by his wife Janet; four children Sandra, Mike, Marianne and Kevin; as well as seven grandchildren. Dick, as known to his friends, was born in Columbus, Ohio to Blondell and Galen Owens Elson. Shortly after, the family moved to Dothan, Alabama where he lived a small town Southern lifestyle that would shape the rest of his life. Sadly, around fifteen his parents divorced and he moved to Chicago with his mother where he finished school at Hyde Park High School. In 1950, when the Korean War began, he enlisted in the Air Force. With strong mathematical and electronic aptitudes, he was stationed outside Frankfurt at a radar and surveillance station atop a mountain the Germans used for passenger gliders called Wasserkuppe. It was during his service that he discovered an enduring passion, his love of motorcycles and the sense of freedom he experienced while riding. After returning to the states, he used money from the GI Bill to attend school at Purdue University, then began a career as an electrical engineer. It was during the 1960's that he discovered another life long passion, the love of his life, Janet Sue Beck. They fell strongly in love and were married within a year. They spent the first year of marriage in Arlington Heights, Illinois where Richard's first child was born. The family then moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where they spent the next ten years. It was here where the couple welcomed their remaining three children into the world. In 1971 the family moved to Alaska. Richard was a wonderful father who instilled in his children a love for Alaska's great outdoors, skiing especially, and even built a beautiful home overlooking the Cook Inlet to be a constant reminder of the wonder in their backyard. Travel was important to Richard, and he took his family on several adventures to Europe and the United Kingdom, where he opened their eyes to the world, showing them historic landmarks of World War II, ancient ruins of Greece, and the medieval castles of Britain. Richard will be painfully missed by his family, but they find comfort in knowing what a full and wonderful life he lived. Surrounded by love and family, his life is one that truly should be celebrated . . .
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Published in Alaska Dispatch News from Dec. 7 to Dec. 8, 2013