Louis Fessler (1922 - 2017)

Obituary
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  • "Louie was a very kind loving person with a heart of gold,..."
    - John Broach
  • "My heartfelt sympathies to the family during this difficult..."
  • "Kathy and Dan, A lovely tribute to your father and one of..."
    - Marjorie Erickson McConnell
  • "What an incredibly adventurous and fruitful life he has..."
    - John Pepe
  • "Kathi, and family, It was a pleasure to meet your father..."
    - Sue Avery
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Louie passed away suddenly of natural causes on Aug. 12, 2017, at his home in Anchorage, Alaska, at the age of 95.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 60 years, Jayne Elizabeth "Beth" Fessler, who died in 2007. He is survived by his two children, L. Daniel Fessler and Kathie Schmid; and his younger brother, Joseph Fessler. Louie is also survived by six grandchildren, Brian Schmid, Cate Weist, Elizabeth Thompson, Doug Fessler, Michael Fessler and Keira Fessler; as well as his five great-grandchildren, Jack and Emma Thompson, Noah Schmid, and Jacob and Benjamin Weist.
A long time Alaskan Pioneer and World War II combat veteran, Louie lived an adventurous and full life. Born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., he and a friend "rode the rails" to Seattle, Wash., and then stowed away on the Alaska Steamship liner, arriving in Anchorage in the summer of 1941. He soon found work in construction at remote construction sites. Early in his career he was in the crew that built many landmarks throughout the state, including the first road to the Portage glacier, the bridge over the river to the west end of the Whittier tunnel, and the docks in Whittier. Louie's work also included helping to build the Anchorage International Airport and working at remote sites during the construction of the White Alice communication system. Although he moved on from operating heavy equipment for a living, he was a lifelong member of IUOE Local 302.
Louie was drafted into the U.S. Army in the spring of 1943. He embarked from Cordova, Alaska, with several other Alaskans, joining the 7th Infantry Division invasion force on its way to Aleutian Islands, where he participated in the landing at Kiska. He was stationed in Hawaii between campaigns, but Louie was a front-line combat infantry veteran of several major campaigns in the South Pacific, including the invasions of Kwajalein; Leyte, Philippines; and Okinawa, Japan. He was wounded at Kwajalein and awarded the Purple Heart. He was an active member of the Anchorage chapter of Purple Hearts and was on the first Honor Flight for Alaska veterans in 2012 to visit the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.
After the war ended, Louie returned to Anchorage and worked for various prominent Alaskan companies as an equipment operator and heavy engine mechanic. He met his future wife, Jayne Elizabeth "Beth" Winder, also an Army veteran, on a blind date in Anchorage and they were married in Talkeetna, Alaska, in 1947. Louie and Beth raised their two children in Alaska and were one of the first to "cabin site" property in Big Lake as well as homesteaded 160 acres in Kenai. Home base, however, was always the house Louie built himself in 1950 in Spenard. There, he raised his family and lived for over 40 years before moving to his home in South Anchorage.
Louie was an extremely proficient and respected mechanic and a self-taught expert in machinery. In 1965, he incorporated his own equipment business. He was well known and well-traveled in the Alaska construction and equipment industry. Louie and his wife successfully operated the business for over 50 years. Louie was still working at it for six days a week at the time of his death. His strong work ethic, keen intelligence, memory and curiosity were key elements in his success. Louie was a strong presence and anchor to his family and will be greatly missed.
A mass will be held in his honor at 12 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish Church, 2901 Huffman Road in Anchorage. There will also be a celebration of life on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, from 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. at Bootleggers Saloon (previously SubZero) 612 F Street in Anchorage.
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Funeral Home
Kehl's Legacy Funeral Home
11621 Old Seward Highway
Anchorage, AK 99515
(907) 344-1497
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Published in Anchorage Daily News on Aug. 20, 2017
bullet Purple Heart bullet U.S. Army bullet World War II