Axel Robert "Bob" Carlson passed away Sept. 8, 2013, in State College, Pa. Bob was born May 27, 1918, in Chicago, Ill., and grew up on a small dairy farm near Mount Vernon, Wash.
His father, Axel Georg Carlsson, was born in Linkoping, Sweden, and his mother, Sanna Sofia Sandell, was born in Munsala, Finland. He is survived by his five children and their spouses, Kris and Ken Porter, of Centre Hall, Pa.; Kathy and David Richards, of Fleetwood, Pa.; Karin and Ken Garrett, of Hilsboro, Ore.; Eric and Mary Carlson-Mathews, of Valley Center, Kan.; Kurt and Karen Carlson-Lougheed, of Fairbanks; nine grandchildren, Bruce, Jeff, John, Cheryl, Barbara, David, Meghan, Katie and Kara, 13 great-grandchildren, and his sister, Vera Frye, of Arizona.
Bob was preceded in death by his wife, Joyce, on Nov. 1, 2011. Bob met Joyce on a blind date while in gunnery school in Lansing, Mich. When he left Lansing, he told her parents he was coming back for her after the war. Instead, 18-year-old Joyce took a train by herself across the country to Washington where Bob was stationed. They married on Nov. 11, 1942. That date, Armistice Day, Bob teased Joyce as the end of one conflict and beginning of another.
Bob's part-time education while working as a carpenter was interrupted when his National Guard unit mobilized. He volunteered for the infantry, but was transferred to a special service engineer regiment after arriving in Europe, and served in both France and Germany until the end of World War II
. He continued service in the National Guard while working and earning his bachelor's degree in agricultural engineering at Michigan State and his master's in agricultural engineering at Penn State. He retired from the National Guard in 1963 as a captain.
In 1965, the adventure of his life began. He left Cooperative Extension at Penn State and brought his family to Fairbanks for a position in Cooperative Extension at the University of Alaska. His expertise in dairy and farm construction grew to include cold climate construction. He traveled Alaska, assisting and training in many communities. Long before "energy conservation" became a common phrase, he was a pioneer, teaching correct building, insulation, vapor and ventilation principles.
He was widely known for the publication "Building a Log House in Alaska" and authored 60 other extension publications. His counsel was valued by many thousands of home owners. He identified the effects of sub-zero climates accelerating condensation maintenance problems, making him an early advocate for proper installation of vapor barriers. That research was extended for other climates, with assistance from computer models he developed. His expertise in energy conservation was recognized by Gov. Hammond, the state energy offices and engineers throughout the country and the world.
He attended and presented at numerous national and international conferences and used a sabbatical in Canada, Norway, Sweden and Finland to exchange cold climate building techniques. He combined practical building experience with computer modeling of construction materials accommodating climate variances. His use of computer programming introduced both sons to computer programming early in high school which became their careers.
In recognition of the practical value of the energy conservation programs he conducted, he was named an Adult Educator of the Year by the Northwest Adult Education Association. He retired as professor emeritus from UA in 1980. After that retirement he continued working as a consultant, often declining pay, for home owners and builders around the state.
Bob was a member of First United Methodist Church and later, St. Paul Methodist Church. He was also an active member of Fairbanks Kiwanis, Full Gospel Businessmen's International, Interior Alaska Dwelling Inspection Council, and several national professional organizations.
The sense of adventure which brought the family to Alaska included additional travel. After retirement from UA, Bob and Joyce participated in a cultural tour of the Soviet Union. Later they were People-to-People delegates for a China tour where he studied agricultural mechanization in China as well as their culture. They also traveled extensively in the United States.
With reluctance, Bob and Joyce retired to State College, Pa., in 2002, because of a lack of adequate senior living facilities in Fairbanks. Bob deeply felt his home was Alaska. In State College they attended Berean Baptist Church and visited former colleagues from Penn State. Bob and Joyce continued travel to visit children, grandchildren and great grandchildren while their health permitted and then later enjoyed visits from family and friends.
Memorial donations can be made to the University of Alaska Foundation, Air Calvary or
. A memorial service will be held in State College at a later date.
Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at www.kochfuneralhome.com.