Elton Engstrom Jr.(1935 - 2013)

Elton Engstrom, Jr.
February 26, 1935 – November 6, 2013


Lifelong Juneau resident Elton Engstrom, Jr. passed away peacefully in his sleep during the night of November 6, 2013. The eldest son of Elton and Thelma Engstrom, he was born on February 26, 1935 in Juneau. He was raised in Douglas and Juneau and graduated from Juneau High School in 1953.

During his young adult years, he enjoyed playing basketball in high school and on several Juneau and Southeast Alaska community teams including the Klukwan Chilkats.

His father, Elton Engstrom, Sr. was a fish buyer at the Juneau Cold Storage, and the younger Elton worked at the plant during the summers through college and into adulthood when he took over the business in 1963 upon the death of his father. Until 1985, he operated fish-buying operations in Juneau, Angoon, Pelican, Yakutat, Dillingham, and Douglas.

Elton earned a bachelor degree in political science at the University of Oregon, Eugene in 1957 and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1960. During his studies, he spent one year at the University of Freiburg, Germany. His years in Boston were exciting times for him. He enjoyed the history and the academic stimulation of law school. Fellow classmates included future presidential candidates Ralph Nader and Michael Dukakis and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

He served in the United States Army as a First Lieutenant at Fort Benning, Georgia until honorable discharge in 1963. Shortly afterward, he married school teacher Sally Hudson of Lapine, Alabama on February 16, 1963.

Years later, he dedicated a book to Sally that he wrote describing their fish-buying experiences on the Nushagak River. They also traveled to many places, and, in recent years, enjoyed restoring her childhood home in Alabama which is listed on the Alabama historical register.

Elton and Sally celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year.

Elton loved to read and write. His extensive book collections fill many shelves in the family home on Goldbelt Avenue. He was particularly fascinated with early maritime histories of the Northwest Coast. In 2004, with his son, Allan, he co-authored a biography on Alexander Baranov, the first Russian governor of Alaska, entitled, Alexander Baranov and a Pacific Empire. For six years, he wrote a weekly column in the Juneau Empire called "On the Waterfront."

Following in the footsteps of his mother and father, Elton served in the Alaska State House of Representatives and the Alaska State Senate. He worked for infrastructure development throughout Southeast Alaska, including projects such as an airport runway in Hoonah and a bridge connecting Sitka and Japonski Island. In appreciation for his work, he was adopted into the Eagle clan in Hoonah and given an honorary name.

He was active in business in property management and retail art sales, and served on numerous boards and commissions up until the day of his death.

He loved his family very much. He was very supportive of his children and grandchildren and always encouraged them in their natural gifts.

Elton was a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board, the Northern Light United Church, the Alaska Native Brotherhood, the Alaska Bar Association, and Pioneers of Alaska Igloo #6.

He is preceded in death by his mother and father, Thelma and Elton Engstrom, Sr., and uncles Adolph, Lennie, and Andy Engstrom, and aunts Hazel and Pearl Dore and uncle Lester Wait. He is survived by his wife, Sally Hudson Engstrom, brother Allan, children Elton and Allan Engstrom, Cathy Muñoz, son-in-law Juan Muñoz, Juan's mother, Rie Muñoz, and grandchildren Mercedes and Matthew Muñoz and Aliosha and Katya Engstrom, numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, and close friends.

Funeral services will take place Thursday, November 14, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. at Northern Light United Church, 400 West 11th Street, Juneau, Alaska.

Published in The Juneau Empire on Nov. 12, 2013