Carl "Harold" Wirum (1927 - 2017)

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Longtime Alaskan Carl "Harold" Wirum passed away peacefully on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, surrounded by his family. Private family services will be held in Bellevue, Wash. A celebration of life will be held in Anchorage, Alaska, and in Bellevue at a later time to be determined.
Harold was born in Anchorage on Feb. 25, 1927, and was voted "best baby boy" at the Alaska State Fair that year (we still have the ribbon to prove it!). His father was born in Norway and was a carpenter for the Alaska Railroad and his mother was born in Sweden and was a cook for the Alaska Railroad Hospital. Harold graduated from Anchorage High School in 1945. While growing up in Anchorage, he held various jobs including working as the town paper boy, a sweeper-clean-up boy in the general store, and as a truck driver for the Alaska Transfer Company. Harold worked hard growing up, but also enjoyed the wilds of Alaska with his friends.
Harold will be remembered for being a strong father figure to his children, for the fun summer days spent with his family at the Nancy Lake cabin which he built with his father in 1958, his enjoyment of boating, exploring and fishing the waterways of Southcentral Alaska, and family trips to Hawaii. He was a strong believer in the pursuit of higher education, hard work and a good martini. He appreciated and enjoyed the friendships he developed growing up in Alaska, during his career and in his retirement years living in Medina, Wash. The legacy he is leaving behind through his creation of education trusts for the benefit of students both in Alaska and in the State of Washington will help educate future generations.
Harold never had a doubt about what he wanted to do. His father, John Wirum, built some of the oldest homes in Anchorage, so Harold had construction in his blood. After completion of his military service, he enrolled in Montana State University to study architecture. After a year there, he transferred to the University of Washington School of Architecture. During summers he worked in the Alaska Railroad Engineering Office and in an Anchorage architecture firm.
Prior to forming Harold Wirum & Associates in 1974, Harold was a partner in two other Anchorage architectural firms. He had more than 40 years of Alaskan architectural experience. He was a former President of the Alaska Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and was a member of the Board of Examiners for Architects, Engineers and Land Surveyors for the State of Alaska for seven years. He served as a member of the Anchorage Planning Commission from 1989 to 1993.
Harold's architectural experience covers work in all parts of Alaska. Several of these projects were "firsts" in Alaska in terms of building type, use of materials and systems, pioneering new areas of codes and ordinances and resolving new issues with building officials, fire marshals and other code enforcement agencies. He directed teams in the design of Alaska facilities and buildings of all types, such as medical facilities, schools and detention centers still in use today. Some of his larger projects in Anchorage included the ARCO complex, Anchorage International Airport Control Tower, Hunt Building (Atwood Building), Captain Cook Hotel, Sullivan Arena, Union Oil Building (NANA Regional Corporation) and Peterson Tower, among others.
During the 1970s, Harold and his wife, Mary Lou (now deceased), a real estate broker, started their first venture into developing and managing buildings. They, with two other partners, developed the first multi-use office/residential building in Anchorage (Peterson Tower). After Harold's wife passed away in 1992, he began the phasing out of his architectural practice. His son, John, took over the real estate development and property management business in 1992.
Harold moved to the Seattle, Wash., area to escape the Alaska winters. While looking for a place to live, he met Eleanor Tsao, a realtor from Bellevue. Eleanor and Harold, at similar places in life, became close, and married in 1997. They bought a house in Medina, Wash., which Harold remodeled. They spent their days enjoying each other and traveling the world together.
Harold is survived by his son, John and John's wife Polly and four grandchildren, Finn, Chloe, Maslin and Morgan, and great-grandchild, Maddox; his daughter, Andrea and her husband Michael Healy and their two daughters, Carolyn (and her husband Ben Haga) and Catherine; as well as his son, Jay. He is also survived by wife, Eleanor; stepdaughter, Felicia; stepgrandson, Michael; stepson, Andrew; stepgranddaughter, Shen; stepson, Bill and his wife Nicole; and stepgrandchildren, Dominic, Adrianna, Blake, Marisa and Tyler.
Harold's family is proud of the positive and everlasting contribution Harold made to the Anchorage skyline. He will always be remembered in their hearts as a gentleman, and a generous and loving father, husband and grandparent.
Published in Anchorage Daily News from Aug. 18 to Aug. 19, 2017
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