Pamela Van Houten (1960 - 2017)

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Just before a brilliant dawn on January 4, 2017, Pamela Van Houten passed away with family at her bedside at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, ending a courageous 14-month battle against leukemia.
Pamela Fay was born during wheat harvest to Helen Sharpe and John Van Houten in Prosser, Washington in 1960. Her ancestors homesteaded in the Horse Heaven Hills and Pam was part of a fifth generation of extended family. Pam's ability to work hard, have empathy and kindness for others, always see the humor in the most difficult situations, and bake awesome pies and cinnamon rolls reflected growing up in a close-knit community that valued family foremost.
Pam attended Juneau Douglas High School, the University of Washington and the University of Alaska Southeast. Pam thrived on learning about places and cultures around the world. During her teenage years, she completed a solo hike of the Chilkoot Trail, traveled through Europe, lived in Sweden for a year learning to speak and think in another language, and traveled across Africa, from Kenya to Tanzania via Rwanda and Zaire, including a trek up Mount Kenya.
Pam had three great loves in life: the outdoors from which she drew great strength; intense physical activity, especially swimming and hiking; and her son Erin. Her vocation as a Fisheries Technician provided an outdoor outlet for a keen interest in science. She built a remote cabin at Thom's Place south of Wrangell, carrying many sheets of plywood from the Wrangell Harbor dock to her skiff, and volunteered at the Petersburg Fire Department. She also traveled and hiked extensively throughout Hawaii and Southeast Alaska. Pam especially enjoyed snorkeling with her son off Oahu beaches and exploring the El Captain cave on Prince of Wales Island with her niece Kyana and nephew Kobuk.
Pam took on challenges with zest. She paddled a kayak solo around Douglas Island in one long day just to see if it could be done. Her family will remember Pam whenever they swim in the ocean or hike on a trail or a beach, recalling the fun times spent together. Adventure was a driving force for Pam, and she encouraged those around her to add some to every day.
Pam is survived by her father: John O. (Livingston, MT); siblings: John A. (Bozeman, MT), Jay (Petersburg), and Linda (Skagway); and son, Erin (Fairbanks).
Celebrations of life are planned for Yakutat in June and for Cleveland, Washington in September
Published in The Juneau Empire from Jan. 23 to Feb. 22, 2017