William Raymond Petaja was born September 25, 1939 in Anchorage, Alaska. He died April 19, 2013 at Bartlett Regional Hospital. He was 73 years old.
Willie was preceeded in death by his daughter Bridget Marie Petaja, parents John & Sally Petaja, Brothers: Johnny & Jacob Petaja, Grandson: William Petaja Jr. Nieces: Kathy & Andrea Isberg.
He is survived by his wife Karin. Daughter & sons Brenda, Billy and Brandon Petaja. Grandchildren: Hans, Kristian & Adele Petaja. In laws: Ruth & Dennis Cunningham and
family. Sune & Patricia Noreen and family. Gunnar & Mary Noreen and family. Sisters: Sally Berlin, Wythel Gershmel, Maureen Petaja and Barbara Turner. Brother: Rufus Hildonen. Foster family: Joe, Jim, Geoff, Teresa and Jolyne Bauer.
Willie was well known throughout Southeast Alaska as an aviation mechanic and bush pilot, finishing his career as a pilot for the SOA Dept of Fish & Game
He was very competitive in sports. Many will remember his basketball skills, often being the shortest man on the court, while jumping high than the rest. Willie gave 100% to everything he undertook.
While playing high school basketball in Anchorage, announcer Steve Agbaba nicknamed him "The Flying Finn". That name stuck, as he carried that name into his flying business.
His family will always remember his gentle, kind, generous and loving ways which he shared with anyone he met along the way. He will be deeply missed by his family.
Memorial services to be held Monday, April 29, 2013 at Chapel by the lake Sanctuary at one p.m. Refreshments and memories to follow.
His burial will take place at a later date.
The family wishes to thank Dr. Urata and Bartlett staff for the compassionate and kind care he received.
In lieu of flowers please send donations to Gastineau Humane Society (or your favorite rescue shelter)
Published in The Juneau Empire on Apr. 26, 2013