Don de Lima
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Don Pedro Carlos de Lima, of Manley Hot Springs, passed away March 14, 2013, at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. Born Dec. 7, 1928, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Pete and Francesca de Lima, Don was destined for a big life - pioneering Alaska.
He grew up in Eagle Rock, Calif., and as soon as he could go to work, he did. At 18, Don was logging in the redwoods of northern California.
In 1948, he came to Alaska to attend the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines, at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Somewhere along the line, Don got bit by the mining bug.
Ernie Wolff and a couple other well-known miners took Don under-wing and helped foster his desire of that "barbaric yellow metal." Don mined all over Alaska, from the Porcupine to Woodchopper.
In the early 1960s, Don went into business as Morton & de Lima, a cement company that poured many foundations in Fairbanks, most notably, "Cap" Lathrop High School.
In December 1962, he married his best friend and lifelong love, Rose Marie Hutchison, of Fairbanks.
Later, Don became a big part of Burgess Construction, working with Buck Allen, Bob Weiss and Herb Middleton.
He built roads all over Alaska and took his family with him to Gakona, Chitina, Hollis, Ketchikan and more.
Don lived a fulsome life. He was full of exuberance about Alaska - the people, the stark difference between people "Outside" and Alaska Natives, the incredible beauty of the land, the tough fellas he studied with, worked for and with and the wondrous journeys he embarked upon.
Don and his trapping partner, Bill Russell - how they loved and lived trapping (supplementing with pinochle) on the Sheenjek and in Fort Yukon; the incredible 3,000 mile cat train across the Canadian and Alaskan Arctic for seven months straight; marrying the love of his life and settling in Manley Hot Springs to raise a family and go back to pushing dirt and managing water.
"Woe to the miner who does not prepare for high water," was a quote oft repeated.
Oh, the stories he did tell ... his expansive vocabulary and eloquence, the letters he wrote and the dreams he had!
From the air sled to kitchen cabinets, problem solving in his sleep and fixing things up better than they were, Don was always busy with one project or another.
He did not care for new things, preferring stuff to be "broke in," Don was one who got a whole lot out of life. Long story short; they don't make 'em like that anymore.
Don went to "Blue Sky" to be with the love of his life, Rose, who passed away just a few months before. So long, Chappie.
He leaves behind plenty of family, including his three sons, Lawrence Roberts, of Venetie; Jay de Lima, of Ruby; and Peter de Lima, of Fairbanks; his daughter, Teresa de Lima, of Fairbanks and Manley Hot Springs; and sister, Diana Duffey, of California; a whole bunch of grandchildren, the "children" (Suzy and Sara), and so very many good friends in Manley and Fairbanks who all anticipated at least one good last season.
A service for Don and Rose together will be held in Fairbanks this summer - date to be announced - followed by a celebration of life for both of these Alaska pioneers, in Manley Hot Springs.
Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Chapel of Chimes Funeral Home.
Published in Daily News-Miner from Mar. 27 to Mar. 31, 2013