Lifelong Alaskan Earl H. Beistline, died peacefully Friday evening, Dec. 14, 2012, at the Fairbanks Pioneers' Home where he had resided for the past five years. He was 96 years old.
Earl was born Nov. 24, 1916, in Juneau, the first child of Alaska pioneers Ralph and Catherine Beistline. He was raised in Juneau with his sister, Helen (Meacham Saarela), and worked summers at the Alaska Juneau Mining Company where his father was one of the mine managers.
In 1934, just out of high school, Earl traveled to Fairbanks to enroll in the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines. There he made many lifelong friends and was active in academic, social and sporting activities. In 1939, he served as president of the student body. He worked summers for mining companies in the Interior, driving steam points and working on dredges.
In 1939, Earl received a five-year degree in mining engineering. In 1947, he received a professional engineer of mines degree. He was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree in 1969 from the University of Alaska.
After graduating from college, Earl worked for the Fairbanks Exploration (F.E.) Company on surveying and clean-up crews and was the mill foreman at the company's small lode mine at the head of Fairbanks Creek when World War II
called him to duty.
Earl had taken a correspondence course that allowed him to become an officer in the Alaska National Guard, 297th Infantry Company, which was activated before the beginning of WW II. He was soon recruited to serve in the 890th Chemical Company, part of the 11th Air Force, serving throughout the Aleutians.
He later was assigned to the Headquarters Squadron of the 23rd Service Group at Adak, and also served at Nome and Elmendorf Air Force bases. He had travel orders to China when the war ended. He was discharged as a major after four years of military service.
After the war, while waiting for the mining season to begin, Earl worked for the Territorial Department of Mines as a mineral assayer on the Fairbanks campus where he lived with his friend, Ivar Skarland, in the Rainy House.
When the mining instructor unexpectedly resigned, Earl was asked to teach the mining classes. Thus began his 36-year career as an educator with the university. He loved to teach. Earl became dean of the school of mines in 1949 and served as provost of the northern region and academic vice-president, among other positions, until his retirement in 1982.
After retirement from the university, Earl mined with his friend and partner, Doug Colp, on Eagle Creek and other creeks in the Central Mining District and ran an independent mining consulting business. Earl was named Alaska Business Leader of the year and was inducted into the National and Alaska Miners Hall of Fame.
He served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Foundation and the board of directors of Usibelli Coal Mine. Earl continued working as a miner and consultant until he was 90 years old.
He remained active in the community through Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, the Alaska Miners Association and Pioneers of Alaska, Igloo No. 4.
In 1946 Earl met and married a Fairbanks girl, the reigning Winter Carnival Queen and fourth generation Alaskan, Dorothy Hering. They were married for 50 years when Dorothy passed away in 1996. They raised four children.
Earl received many awards and honors for his professional achievements, statewide and nationally, and for his many community activities, but he said he was most proud of his family.
He leaves behind, his sons, Ralph (Peggy) Beistline and Bill (Marcie) Beistline; and his daughters, Kathy (John) Nussbaumer and Lynda (Tom) Swisher; 13 grandchildren; 26 great-grandchildren; and nephews in Alaska (Bettisworth) and Washington (Meacham).
He has given them a wonderful legacy and an example of integrity, service, hard work, commitment and cheerful optimism. He will be greatly missed and always remembered.
The family expresses gratitude and appreciation for the attentive health care providers and caring staff of the Pioneers' Home.
A memorial service will take place at 1 p.m. Dec. 29, 2012, at University Community Presbyterian Church, 3510 College Road. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Chapel of Chimes Funeral Home.
Contributions in Earl's name can be made to the Dorothy Beistline Memorial Garden at the University of Alaska Foundation, P.O. Box 755080, Fairbanks, AK 99775; or to the Midnight Sun Council Boy Scouts of America Memorial Fund, 1400 Gillam Way, Fairbanks, AK 99701.