Julius Rockwell (1918 - 2015)

Obituary
  • "Julius was a prince. Smart, thoughtful, helpful,..."
    - Mark Muro
  • "Julius had an inspiring zest for life and a passion for the..."
    - Connie LaPerriere
  • "Julius stands out as one of Alaska's visionary..."
    - Yvonne Evans
  • "He could tell you all about salmon and their life cycles."
  • "So sorry to hear that Jay died. I remembered him from St..."

Julius "Jay" Rockwell Jr., 96, gently left us on April 16, 2015, with his children at his side. Jay was an engineer, scientist and poet who lived a life of love for his family, regularly involving them in backpacking, camping, philately, skiing, spelunking and swimming. Julius Jr. was born, the eldest of three sons, to Julius Sr. and Alice Hearne in Taunton, Mass., and was inspired early on to connect with God's creation. In 1939, he received a Bachelor of Science in Zoology at the University of Michigan. Afterwards he joined the U.S. Navy, becoming an Engineering Officer on the USS Lexington, which left Pearl Harbor two days before the attack. He was on the ship until its sinking as a result of the Battle of the Coral Sea, and for his heroic efforts received a Commendation Medal for Leadership in battle. He later attended the University of Washington while with the Fisheries Research Institute conducting salmon studies in Alaska and received a PhD in Fisheries Biology. He met Marcia Morris of Seattle, Wash., through an experiment with fudge, marrying in 1949. They were together for 11 years, having three children, Dorica, John and Bill. Jay invented fish counters for the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries and went to Washington, D.C., in 1963, serving as Chief of the Instrumentation Unit. That fall he met Elizabeth "Liz" Heinz, of Washington D.C., at the Ski Club of Washington, marrying in 1964. They raised Liz's daughter Susan and Julius IV "Tad". In 1970, Jay moved to Alaska for the Alaska Pipeline Office, protecting the salmon streams during construction of the pipeline, surveying almost every stream along the 800 mile route. He attended St. Mary's Episcopal Church with his family, lay reading and ushering for many years. In 1979, he joined Alaska Pacific University as Adjunct Professor in Biology. As President of the Glacier Grotto of Alaska, he organized expeditions on Prince of Wales Island, becoming a Fellow of the National Speleological Society. Jay helped found the Anchorage Waterways Council in 1985, served on the Board of Directors until 2005, then as Chairman of the Issues Committee until 2010, persistently focused in pursuit of those who would foul the waterways and wetlands around Anchorage. Jay was divorced from Liz in 2003, and lived on his own until recently. These years were enhanced by a cadre of friends and helpers who supported him in giving poetry readings and theater performances, attending the Alaska Symphony and delighting in studio and solstice parties. He is survived by all of his children, Dorica Jackson (Nathan) of Ketchikan, Alaska, John (Annie) of Marion, Mass., Susan of Stanton, Calif., Bill (Karen) of Snohomish, Wash., and Tad (Wendy) of Highlands Ranch, Colo.; seven grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. Please make donations in memory of Julius to the Anchorage Waterways Council, P.O. Box 241774, Anchorage, AK 99524-1774. A Celebration of Life will be announced later and held in late July 2015.
Published in Anchorage Daily News on Apr. 25, 2015