LaRayne Mary Alberts Mertz, 90, passed away at the Pioneers' Home in Anchorage on Dec. 23, 2012. She was born April 19, 1922, in Elkton, S.D., to Arthur and Lola Houser Alberts, and was the sixth of seven children.
While attending high school in Deadwood,
LaRayne was introduced to her future husband, Johnny. She graduated at 16 and started her traveling career. She worked in Texas, Oklahoma, Portland and Seattle.
During World War II, LaRayne worked in the ship yards at Vancouver, Wash., where other family members were working. She was a supply runner for airplane parts and a welder who was assigned to small spaces in ships since she was so petite. She was claustrophobic and would sing so she could hear the echoes to keep her company. After working long days, she enjoyed dancing to the big bands.
LaRayne was living in Seattle, Wash., after the war when she was reacquainted with Johnny Mertz, who was on his way to Alaska to work. LaRayne and her sister came to Fairbanks where she and Johnny were married on Feb. 21, 1947. She thought she was only staying for one year.
She and Johnny hand-built their log home with logs that had been floated down the Salcha River. Although it was outside the city limits when built, today their home is almost in the center of town. It withstood the 1964 Good Friday earthquake, the '67 flood and many cold, cold winters, and remains in the family.
LaRayne co-owned The Cradle Shop with her sister, Jeanne Ohlsen, for many years. At that time it was almost the only store specializing in baby clothes and goods. Running it was hard work, but they had fun while successfully balancing family and business.
After retiring, LaRayne was a world traveler, always counting down the days for the next trip. She had adventures in Europe, Australia, China, Africa, Japan and many other destinations. Every year, starting in 2006, three generations would travel to a destination of warmth, including LaRayne's favorite, cruising the Mexican Riveria.
LaRayne is survived by her three children, Kristi and her husband, Bill Scullion, of Fairbanks, Regina (Gigi) and her husband, Normand Lemoine, of Delta Junction, and Mark Mertz and his wife, Laura Richmond, of Vancouver, B.C. She is also survived by four grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren; several nieces and a nephew. She was preceded in death by her husband, Johnny, and her six siblings.
There will be no memorial service. A graveside service will be held during the summer in Fairbanks. The family would like to thank the staff at the Pioneers' Home in Anchorage, and Anchorage Hospice for the excellent care they provided mom.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that a donation be made to the above mentioned organizations.