Wallace Ivan DeBoff- 1928 to 2013
Pioneer Juneau resident Wallace Ivan 'Wally' DeBoff passed away suddenly at his home in Juneau on January 29, 2013. Born in Olympia, Washington, to Ivan Diboff and Maude Ruby Diboff on March 14, 1928, Wally was an 80+ year resident of the Juneau area, having moved here with his parents and younger brother Richard in 1930.
The Diboff family lived for many years in a small house located between the Gastineau Channel and the original route of the Glacier Highway, in the general area that was later developed into the Aurora Harbor installation. Maude was a homemaker and excellent cook. Ivan was employed as a miner in the Alaska- Juneau Mine and as a heavy construction carpenter.
Wally attended the public schools and graduated from Juneau High School in 1947. Even in his early years he was fascinated by anything mechanical, be it automobiles in general, and their engines in particular. Like a number of young men of that era, while he was in high school he pumped gasoline and did engine work at the gas station for Elroy Ninnis at "Juneau Motors". This was the local Ford dealership that was located on the corner of Willoughby Avenue and Main Street (near the site of the current City Bus Terminal). Because Wally was very responsible for his age, Mr. Ninnis let Wally run the business by himself in the evenings until the gas station closed at 8:30. His friends say that Wally always had a mechanical project of some kind going, either working on an outboard for a skiff or tuning-up an engine in a friend's car.
Wally was drafted into the Army during the Korean War. While stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington state he contracted tuberculosis and spent months of recovery in Madigan Hospital on the base. Following his recovery he was given a medical discharge and returned home to Juneau.
In 1954 Wally met Barbara Rountree and was smitten by her good looks and strong character. He found that they both shared a liking for fast cars and boats. Wally built Barbara a small hydroplane race boat and powered it with a high performance Mercury outboard. Barbara raced the 'Applesauce' during Juneau's 4th of July races. They were married in 1955 and he and Barbara moved to a waterfront cottage on Pt. Stephens Road with a beautiful view of the north side of Lena Cove. During the late 1950's and early 60's Wally worked for the ground crew for the Pacific Northern Airlines ant the Juneau Airport. In 1957 Wally and Barbara decided he needed to increase his earning power and they moved the family south to California to begin his education in the field of Engineering.
In 1964, with an Engineering degree from California Polytechnic State University in hand, Wally was hired by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities and worked for the next 20 years in various design and engineering capacities. For the latter part of his career, he was the Mechanical Engineer for the Buildings Section of the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities. His heating and air-conditioning designs were incorporated into dozens of state owned buildings throughout Alaska. Wally was preceded in death by his parents Ivan and Maude, his wife Barbara, and his step-son Lynn DeBoff. He is survived by his brother Richard Diboff (Minh) of Greenville, South Carolina, his step-daughter Brenda Donohue (Joe) of Juneau, his brothers-in-law Graham Rountree and Richard Rountree (Lucille) both of Juneau. Wally was the proud grandfather of seven grandchildren and two 'honorary' grandchildren, and twelve great-grandchildren.
There will be a memorial service for Wally at the Juneau Moose Club on Saturday, May 25th from 3:00 to 5:00PM. All of Wally's many friends are invited by his family to attend this ceremony and share their favorite memories of this Juneau pioneer.
Published in The Juneau Empire on May 17, 2013