Longtime Fairbanks resident, Wayne W. Wittrock, 86, died Tuesday, April 22, 2014, in Anchorage at the Pioneers' Home. |
Born Dec. 5, 1927, in South Dakota, Wayne's family, like others, lost their farm during the depression. They then moved into the city of Sioux Falls where he spent most of his childhood. At age 18, Wayne enlisted in the U.S. Army, served one term and achieved the rank of staff sergeant. After his service, he returned to Sioux Falls, saved his money and, in 1948, fulfilled his dream of coming to Alaska, which he did by steamship.
He worked in construction in Fairbanks and then moved to Seward where he ran a small trucking venture freighting goods over the Sterling Highway that was just opening up. Wayne left Alaska to attend trade school at UCLA where he graduated as a heavy equipment mechanic. While in Los Angles, he met the love of his life, Patricia Carroll. They were married in 1952 and were inseparable for 52 years. Together in 1953, they drove up the Alaska Highway to Fairbanks, where they spent their first winter in the old Hillings homestead cabin in what is now Aurora Subdivision.
Wayne chinked and insulated the old log cabin so it would withstand the winter. He and Patricia then built their own house, raised six children and made Fairbanks their lifelong home. Wayne used his training for a successful career working on heavy equipment at Fort Wainwright until he retired in 1982.
Wayne and Patricia were members of the "Pioneers of Alaska" and cherished their many lifelong pioneer friends. They were true pioneers who loved Alaska, and worked tirelessly and quietly to make it a better place for everyone. When a need arose, Wayne was always willing to help.
He was president of the Aurora Improvement Club (before it was in the city), helped construct and served as a volunteer fireman for the Aurora-Lemeta fire department and fought many fires. He was a cubmaster for Cubscouts, was on the National Ski Patrol and helped his good friend, Ole Thorgaard, build and run Ski Boot Hill on Farmers Loop Road. He also pursed his other passions, such as prospecting and mining and was active in a mining operation near Livengood for many years.
He was a master mechanic who could fabricate and build many things such as airboats, snowplanes, and halftracks. He ran airboats up many rivers, hunting with his good friend, Jack Osborn, and flew all over Alaska on hunting trips with his good friend, Andy Kemak. He has taken many game animals including moose, caribou, bear, wolf, sheep, and buffalo.
Wayne will undoubtedly be happy to be reunited with his beloved wife, Patricia, who passed away in 2004, and his son, Eric, who passed away in 1958. He is also preceded in death by his brothers, Laverne (Jim), Larry, and Robert, and his sister, Lorraine (Susie).
He is survived by his six children, Anne Beyer, of Columbus, Ga.; Patrick Wittrock and spouse, Robin, of Anchorage; Bridget Wittrock, of Denver, Colo.; Blaze Wittrock and spouse, Cindy, of Tehachapi, Calif.; Eileen Jackson and spouse, Jim, of Morrow Bay, Calif.; and Wayne Wittrock and spouse, DeAnn, of Anchorage. He is also survived by 11 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
A funeral Mass will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, May 30, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. Rev. Frederick C. Bayler will officiate.
Published in Daily News-Miner on May 22, 2014