Longtime Juneau resident Roger Sylvester died at home with his family on February 28th; he was 88 years old. Born in Essex Junction, Vermont, young Roger rode out the Depression working in the family's general store stocking shelves & delivering groceries. After high school, he joined the Navy in WWII and crewed aboard PT Boat 108 in the PaciÄc Theater to the end of the war. Cruising the islands and atolls proved to be a major inÅuence and later, inspired his life in retirement. After the war, Roger graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Forestry. In college, Roger was introduced to Cleone Royer, the beautiful older sister of a house- mate and fellow Vermonter. Roger and Cleone married on June 15th, 1950, raised two sons and enjoyed 53 years together. Roger worked as a forester for the Bureau of Indian Affairs developing forest industries on the White Swan and Yakima Indian Reservations in Washington, the Navaho Reservation in Arizona and Änally on the Seminole Reservation in Florida. After a family vacation to Alaska in June of 1964, the lure of the North proved irresistible and once home in Florida, Roger was able to convince leaders in Washington that the BIA needed a presence in Alaska to develop forestry on Native allotments and reservations in Alaska. The following year, the family was transferred a Änal time and Juneau became the base of operations as he worked to develop the timber industries from Annette Island to Elim to Arctic Village for the BIA and Alaska Natives. Roger was that rare federal worker with a bilingual business card: English on the front and Japanese on the back. Prior to retiring in 1980 Roger had facilitated the transition of the BIA's role from "steward" to assisting the new ANCSA Corporations in developing their own timber industries.
The Sylvester's completely embraced the adventurous life Alaska offered. Their children enjoyed a rich childhood recreating at the family's Tenakee cabin, annual hunting camps in the Alaska Range and Äshing remote channels of Southeast Alaska. Never far from the ocean with a collection of boats, the 45' ketch, "Robrian" was Roger's pride and joy. Once retired, Roger and Cleone
set sail from Auke Bay and spent the next 12 years circumnavigating the PaciÄc Ocean returning To the beautiful islands he had experienced during the war. Cleone preceded Roger in death in May of 2003. Roger is survived by sons Brian and Rob, daughters-in-law Linda Sylvester, Debra Hart, grandchildren Brandon Sylvester, Rob Sylvester, Sean Sylvester, Forrest Sylvester, Mackenzie Sylvester, Emma-Lily Schmitz and Caroline Schmitz and his sister Fran Boutiler. He also leaves behind many dear friends from the golf course, bowling alley and racquet clubs of Juneau and Palm Springs. Services are planned for early June, with details to follow. In the meantime, Roger's family urges everyone to get outdoors with their own families and celebrate being alive.
Published in The Juneau Empire on Apr. 7, 2014