Stewart E. White (1924 - 2015)

Obituary
  • "What a great guy. I loved listening to Stu tell of his..."
    - Bill Lawrence
  • "I loved Stu White. He knew me all of my life and was one of..."
    - Sue Bailey
  • "I just learned of Stewart's passing today and my..."
    - Barbara Houser
  • "May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow."
    - Psalm 83;18
  • "Here is the Government Hill Oral History Project he took..."

Stewart E. White departed the station for the last time early in the morning on April 15, 2015, at the age of 90 years and 10 months. As always, he left so smoothly his passengers didn't even know the train was moving. A lifelong railroader, WWII veteran and long-time Alaska resident, Stewart was born in 1924, in the young town of Weed, Calif., in the shadow of Mt. Shasta. As a boy, he watched the huge Union Pacific steam locomotives thunder through town and developed a lifelong love of the railroad. He worked as a teenager for U.P., and then as WWII progressed joined the Army and proudly served in the 721st Railway Operating Battalion in eastern India in the China Burma India Theater. After the war, he returned to Weed and made a fateful decision: whether to stay and work for the U.P. or head north to the Territory of Alaska and take an opportunity with the Alaska Railroad. The choice for adventure in the northland was made, and Stewart headed for Alaska in 1948. He began employment with the Alaska Railroad, hiring on as a engine watchman and moving up to locomotive engineer soon after, and was with the A.R.R. for 33 years until he retired in 1982. He began his service on steam locomotives and retired on diesel electrics. He was one of only several Alaskans still living that knew how to operate a steam locomotive. He engineered many, including the one on the Delaney Park Strip. He operated the last steam locomotive in the State of Alaska, the Moose Gooser, a locomotive brought up from the Lower 48 to participate in the Alaska Centennial in 1967. Some of his home movies of railroading have been preserved in the Alaska Archives for future generations to enjoy. Shortly after coming to Alaska, he met a young woman who had traveled here to visit her sister and Gloria Hodges became his bride in 1954. They then began their family and lived in Whittier, Alaska, in the early days before settling in the family home on Government Hill and remaining there for many decades. After coming to Alaska and being assigned to Whittier, a love affair with the sea and Prince William Sound began that lasted many years. He had many good memories of his first boat, the Alba, and he and many others, both family and friends, have memories of trips aboard his second boat, the Great White. Stu knew the Sound well and watched it change after the quake in '64. He shared his love and knowledge of the area and fishing with his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and friends. Stewart enjoyed time spent at the family cabin at Stariski Creek on the Kenai Peninsula, with the million dollar view and abundant fishing and friends. He was an accomplished woodworker, greatly enjoying this hobby. Most of the furniture in the White's house was made by him. Stewart is survived by his wife of 61 years, Gloria; children, Cynthia (husband, Greg), Robert, Jodi (partner, Steve) and Stephen; grandchildren, Fayedra, Shannon, Michele, Brandon, Brett, Sellina, Charles and Chris; great-grandchildren, Robert, Ryan, Phoenix, Alexander, Jonathan, Silas and Alyona; and the many friends who were lucky to know him and share his life experiences. He was preceded in death by his parents, Lucien and Zoa; brother, Robert; and grandson, Thomas. No service will be held. A birthday party will be held in his honor, please contact a family member for information. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to your local Hospice.
Published in Anchorage Daily News on June 14, 2015
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