Raymond E. Oberg (1928 - 2016)

  • "Dave Kathy and Nancy, Your family has been a part of many..."
    - Lynda McLarrin
  • "Dear David Kathy and Nancy , so sorry to hear of your dads..."
    - Richard Kurtz
  • "It was a lively discussion around the counter at Denny's..."
    - Kathy Kunes
  • "The closest I came to meeting Raymond was at Walmart at..."
    - Andrew Zartmann
  • "Love to my travel buddy."
    - Becky

Raymond Eugene Oberg Sr., 88, a 75-year Alaskan, passed away in the company of family on Aug. 28, 2016. He was the oldest son of John Waddell Oberg and Alma Evelyn (Wise) Oberg. He was born in Kansas City, Mo., on Aug. 1, 1928, and would have lived the life of a Midwesterner but for the Great Depression. Instead, the family moved repeatedly, following any railroad work his father could obtain. Ray recalled enrolling in a small school "somewhere in Wyoming" one morning. There were no extra desks, so he stood while the janitor built him one. However, his mother withdrew him before the desk was finished and they were back on the road. He felt bad for the janitor. To his surprise, his father ultimately obtained employment with the Alaska Railroad. Ray, his mother and brother boarded the Steamship Alaska in Seattle, Wash., bound for Seward, Alaska, on Dec. 3, 1941. Four days later they learned that Pearl Harbor had been bombed and they had to wait near Yakutat, Alaska, for a Naval escort to lead them across the Gulf of Alaska. There was concern that enemy submarines or battleships might attempt to take out U.S. steamships. After sitting off shore for a week, with a major storm anticipated, the Captain decided to forge into the bad weather, hoping to battle only rough waters and not torpedoes. Most people remained in their rooms, as the waters were exceptionally rough. Ray recalled throwing up for 24 hours. The next day, feeling better, he ventured to the dining hall, where he felt treated like royalty by the maitre d' and staff as one of only a few that dared eat, and the only diner with a teenage boy's appetite. Ray arrived in Anchorage, Alaska, when it was not much more than a coal stop for the railroad. As a young teenager, he mowed the baseball field and shoveled the ice rink on the Park Strip, where small planes also landed. He also reset pins at Anchorage's only bowling alley and worked in a body repair shop before graduating from Anchorage High School and attending University of Alaska, Fairbanks, studying Chemistry. His best friend at college, John Houlehan, was an Irishman from Ashland, Ky., who landed in Alaska after the war. John wrote to his family about his shy Scandinavian friend, "Rayberg," who was funny and easily embarrassed. When John's sister, Harriet, moved to Fairbanks to work as a nurse, she couldn't wait to meet this young man. They met, married, moved to Anchorage, started a family and created lives in the far north. Ray worked at Army Navy Surplus Store, Anchorage Body and Paint and retired as an Insurance Appraiser from Crawford & Co. He was an avid skier when young. He liked long drives, planting huge hanging baskets, camping, finishing crossword puzzles over a cup of coffee and Laurel and Hardy movies. He loved hanging out with his grandchildren and entertaining them with his stories. Ray was easy going, generous and seriously hated attention. While writing an obituary is the established way to honor him, right now Raymond Oberg is pacing back and forth somewhere, hoping we stop writing and pleading that we don't submit this for others to see. He hated attention so much that no one knew he was dying of cancer until just a few days before he passed. He died the way he lived, unobtrusively, expecting nothing, and more concerned about others than himself. He will be missed by his surviving children and their spouses, David and Peggy Oberg, Kathy and Joe Gianotti and Nancy and Jeffrey Long; grandchildren, Erica Oberg, Matthew Johnson, Dan Short-Gianotti and his wife Anne Short-Gianotti, Becky Gianotti and her husband Chris Ledeboer, Samantha Long, Brian Long, Gregory Long, Kevin Long and Anthony Long; his four great-grandchildren, Moira Johnson, Natalie and Ian Ledeboer and Ash Short-Gianotti; his companion, Shirley Taylor and her daughter Jaime Miller; and his brother, Harland Oberg. He was preceded in death by his wife, Harriet Houlehan Oberg; his son, Raymond Oberg Jr.; and his grandson, Joshua Oberg. In memory of Ray, please spend some time with your friends and family, telling stories that make others laugh.
Published in Anchorage Daily News on Sept. 7, 2016