Paul Beatty Crews (1917 - 2017)

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Paul Crews passed away peacefully on July 20, 2017, at the Anchorage Pioneer Home, surrounded by loved ones, just 18 days shy of his 100th birthday. Paul was a warm and generous man who uplifted the lives of those around him and inspired many to pursue their dreams.
Paul was born on Aug. 8, 1917, in Portsmouth, Va., but moved at a very young age with his parents to a small home on the shores of Puget Sound in Bremerton, Wash. There, surrounded by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, Paul grew up loving the great outdoors, especially the water and the mountains. An avid boy scout, he became an Eagle Scout while very young. As a teenager, Paul spent his winter months skiing and his summers climbing the Olympic Mountains. Paul was the first to climb many of the mountains on the Olympic Peninsula, experiences which he later described in his 1996 book ""Early Hiking in the Olympics 1922 - 1942.""
In 1941, Paul earned a mechanical engineering degree from Washington State University. Shortly after graduation, he married Betty Jane Morgenthaler. While in college, Paul was in ROTC and earned his pilot's license. With the U.S. entry into World War II, he anticipated being made a pilot, but the military trained him as an ordinance officer and assigned him to the island of Saipan in the Pacific because of his engineering education.
After the war ended in 1945, Paul returned to Washington to reunite with his bride, Betty. The first of their four children were born in Renton, and during nights and weekends, Paul built a house for his growing family in Bellevue, Wash. In 1951, Paul traveled to St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea to oversee the construction of one of the original DEW line radar sites. Paul immediately realized that Alaska was where he wanted to live. In 1952, the family moved to Anchorage, Alaska, and lived in Rogers Park, where the second two children were born. In 1962, the family built their current home in the Turnagain area of Anchorage.
In 1957, Paul began practice as one of the earliest licensed mechanical engineers in Alaska. Later he formed a partnership with Don MacInnes, a mechanical engineer, and Bob Hoffman, an electrical engineer. Over the years the firm, known as CMH, grew in size and provided mechanical and electrical design for many of Anchorage's larger buildings, such as the Atwood Building. Along the way Paul mentored numerous young mechanical engineers. He was also a long-time member of the Anchorage Rotary Club.
Paul was an accomplished musician who loved classical music. During his youth he played the trumpet in several bands and then enjoyed a renewed interest during his later years by playing in an Anchorage ensemble.
Throughout his life Paul displayed a passion for adventure in the outdoors. His love of the mountains, skiing and flying continued into his later years. Paul was one of the founders of the Mountaineering Club of Alaska, and he was the first to ascend several peaks seen in the Anchorage skyline. Several of his mountain climbing adventures were described in the book ""Tordrillo – Pioneer Climbs and Flights in the Tordrillo Mountains of Alaska, 1957-1997,"" co-authored by Paul and his friends, Rodman Wilson, Lowell Thomas Jr. and Tony Martin. Paul owned and flew several airplanes during his Alaskan life, and he often wished that his flying days could return.
In the 1970s, Paul built a 24´fiberglass sailboat, ""The Polly Esther,"" which he enjoyed sailing in Prince William Sound. Along the way, he also earned his boat captain's license for small craft. Most notably, however, Paul was an avid cross-country and alpine skier into his early 90s.
After Paul retired in 1982, he and Betty enjoyed traveling to numerous countries around the world. Inspired by his love of the arctic, Paul was especially interested in traveling on icebreakers in arctic environments, including Greenland, Iceland and the Antarctic. When not traveling, Paul donated his time to assist with community projects. Paul helped with repairs on the Loussac Library fountain and assisted with design and construction of the Karl Eide ski jumps.
Although still physically active in his later years, Paul turned to the joys of wood working. At first he created many beautiful intricately patterned wooden bowls, until he became interested in creating musical instruments, first a balalaika and then numerous violins.
Paul was preceded in death by his loving wife, Betty, who passed away the day before their 60th wedding anniversary; and his son-in-law, Robert Venator. He is survived by his children, David, Paul, Katie and Peter; their wives Mary, Barbara and DaRae; and their children, Sarah, Elizabeth, Abigail, Laura, Nicholas, Katherine, Sebastian, Nick, Valerie, Tony, Michael and Laura.
A celebration of his life will be held on what would have been Paul's 100th birthday, Aug. 8, 2017, at 6 p.m., at the Kincaid Park's Chalet. Reminiscences and stories about Paul will be most welcome. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Boy Scouts of America.
Published in Anchorage Daily News from Aug. 6 to Sept. 5, 2017
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