Ed Orbeck, former Alaska labor commissioner and longtime labor leader, died Jan. 6, 2012, in Arizona after a brief illness.
The Guest Book is expired.
Born in West Union, Minn., Sept. 16, 1915, Ed was 96 years young.
Before coming to Alaska, Ed worked in shipyards in Southern California and played football for the Los Angeles Bulldogs and Hollywood Rangers of the American Professional Football League. After driving up the Alaska Highway in 1949, he joined Laborers Local 942 where he served as president and business agent for many years.
Ed was active in civic affairs. He served on the Fairbanks City Council and was elected to the state Legislature for five terms. He was an advocate for Alaska workers as state labor commissioner for eight years under Gov. Jay Hammond, leading the department during the development of Prudhoe Bay and the construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline. Ed worked hard as commissioner to ensure Alaska workers had the opportunity to work on these projects, and took the right to retain Alaska's local hire law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ed was a lifetime member of the Fairbanks Elks and a member of Pioneers of Alaska Igloo No. 6.
A real sportsman, Ed loved all sports, was a standout athlete during his school years, coached football at the University of Alaska in 1949, coached a local baseball team, was an avid supporter of the Goldpanners, played hockey into his 40s, and played football in Alaska leagues throughout the 1950s, playing both offense and defense for the Fairbanks Huskies in 1958 and 1959.
"Big Ed" was a familiar sight in downtown Fairbanks, chomping on his ever-present cigar, with Red, his much loved Labrador, always at his side. Ed loved Alaska and was proud to be an Alaskan.
Ed is survived by his wife of more than 70 years, Sherry; daughter, Sharon (Tom Wilton); son, John (Arlene); granddaughters, Heidi Titchenal (Steve) and Erika Hygard (Keith); grandson, Nick Orbeck; great-granddaughter, Amber Titchenal and great-grandsons, Dan Titchenal and Kent Hygard. All are welcome at a memorial service honoring Ed at 3 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at Fairbanks Lutheran Church, 1012 Cowles St. A reception will follow at the church.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Fairbanks Food Bank, 725 26th Avenue Fairbanks, AK 99701, or www.fairbanksfoodbank.org.
Published in Daily News-Miner on May 20, 2012