David McRae (1961 - 2016)

  • "Hi David sorry to see you go to the great airplane hanger..."
    - Martin Christenson
  • "David I wish that I got the chance to meet u. I was so..."
    - Deidre Gardiner
  • "David I am so sorry I never got a chance to meet u. I was..."
    - Deidre Gardiner
  • "David, I am very sorry to hear about your loss. So early..."
    - Junko H S
  • "Our childhood and teenage memories are some of my fondest...."

On Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, Alaska lost a treasured son, David McRae. Born on April 20, 1961, in Seattle, Wash., to Bristol Bay's Grace (Gardiner) McRae and fisherman/carpenter father Sam McRae, David grew up between homes in Seattle; Williams Lake, British Columbia; and summer fish camps in Ekuk and Naknek, Alaska. During his school years in Williams Lake, David lived with his father, an accomplished log home builder, who traveled extensively in his work. In the times his father was away, he became a beloved family member to the Durfeld and Vaughn families. David's love of flying started with Dr. Vaughn's collection of small planes. David's mother, Grace, was a long-tenured nurse at Virginia Mason hospital in Seattle, where she had a home often shared with David. Grace's mother, Lydia Gardiner of Aleknagik, Alaska, operated a salmon set net site and introduced David to the world of commercial fishing. Wanting more fishing experience, David worked with the Smith family of Aleknagik and quickly transitioned from deckhand to captain while fishing all districts in Bristol Bay. After finishing a degree at Western Washington University, he contemplated many careers and happily committed to none. In the decades that followed he became a commercial pilot, artist, carpenter, builder, collector, apartment manager, trader, entrepreneur, guide, traveler, while always falling back on aviation and fishing as his core work. From his earliest days, he was identified as a high achiever, athletic, well-liked and enthusiastic. His optimism, friendly interest, capabilities and available time made him a magnet for all manner of friends. He could always be counted on for an impromptu trip abroad, surfing in Hawaii, caribou hunting, motocross riding, fixing up an old truck, building a cabin, resurrecting a boat and finding just the right airplane or airplane part. David felt a special kinship with his aunt and uncle, Bella and Jay Hammond; their daughter, Heidi; and their grandchildren, Jay and Lauren. He spent many summers fishing with Heidi and her children at their Naknek River set net site. As Governor Hammond eased into retirement, David took on responsibility for supporting the Hammond's Lake Clark homestead, where Bella still resides. David was preceded in death by both his parents and older brother, Sam Jr. He also leaves behind constellations of friends in the Cariboo region of British Columbia; Seattle, where he was known as the "Mayor of Minor Avenue"; Anchorage, where he was a fixture in the aviation community; and Bristol Bay, where he had numerous fishing and flying colleagues, and cousins in the extended Gardiner family. A Celebration of Life will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, at 6 p.m., at the Alaska Aviation Museum, 4721 Aircraft Drive in Anchorage, Alaska.
Published in Anchorage Daily News from Nov. 19 to Nov. 29, 2016
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