Longtime Alaskan homesteader Donald Alvin Herning, 90, was welcomed into the arms of his Saviour on July 17, 2013, at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, surrounded by his loving
He was born on Dec. 30, 1922, to Guy and Edith Herning in Grangeville, Idaho. Don's family later moved to Clarkston, Wash., where Don graduated from high school. On May 5, 1941, Don arrived in Alaska on the SS Yukon steamship and joined his brothers, Earl, Carl and Harold, in Anchorage for one winter before moving to Fairbanks. In 1942, his mother, Edith, and two sisters, Dorothy and Anne, joined him in Fairbanks.
Don was drafted into the U.S. Army
on May 5, 1943, during World War II, and was stationed at Ladd Field. He was honorably discharged in 1945. He homesteaded 160 acres, now known as 4.8 Mile Chena Hot Springs Road. Don married pioneer Alaskan, Dorothy Springbett, in 1948. Together they carved a life out of the Alaska wilderness and raised five children, who currently reside in Alaska.
Don's career included working at Pan American Airways, first as a bull cook preparing meals for the flights and later servicing the aircraft. He became a member of the Carpenters Union, working at various construction firms including Burgess Construction and Peter Kiewit & Sons, traveling to the Marshall Islands for a yearlong military construction project on Kwajelein Atoll.
He began a civil service career at Fort Wainwright in 1961, which spanned 21 years, retiring in December 1982, shortly after Dorothy's passing. In 1985, Don married longtime family friend, Jean Pole, of Seattle. They continued to share the homestead lifestyle for 28 years until Don's passing.
Don truly enjoyed the Alaska outdoors, from gold panning to fishing, and collecting rocks to collecting treasures from the corners of old cabins. Those passions will continue on through the lives of his children and grandchildren. Don was preceded in death by his first wife, Dorothy; sister, Dorothy Eberhardt; brothers, Earl, Carl, Harold and Bill Herning, and granddaughter, Rachel Dunlap.
Those left to cherish his memory are his loving wife, Jean; his children, Colleen Herning, Carol (Dick) Austin, Bruce (Linda) Herning, Cheryl (Alan) Dick, Nancy Herning; sister, Anne Reichow; sister-in-law, Mary Herning; sister-in-law, Julia Herning; nine grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Memorial services to celebrate Don's life will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, 2013, at McGrath Baptist Church, 1100 McGrath Road. A time for fellowship will immediately follow the service. A private burial will be held at Birch Hill Cemetery.