James E. Samuelson, lovingly known as "Dad," "Sam," "Jim" or "Pop Pop" by those close to him, passed away at his home in North Pole on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019, at 73 years old. Jim fought a courageous battle with Cholangiocarcinoma for over three years after being diagnosed with the formidable disease in November 2016. He was cared for and surrounded by his loving family and close friends during the months, weeks, days and hours before taking his last breath. He was loved beyond measure.
Jim was born in Reedley, California, and grew up in the San Joaquin Valley. He was a proud veteran in the United States Air Force serving for 22 years. He enlisted at the age of 17 and completed basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. After basic, he was stationed at various Air Force Bases both state-side and overseas in Korat, Thailand; McCord, Washington; Kunsan, Korea; Hill, Utah; Lowry, Colorado; Lackland, Texas; Mather, California; Eielson, Alaska; and Shemya, Alaska. He retired from active duty service in 1985, but went back to work as a civilian at Eielson for 21 years, retiring again in 2006.
It was when he was stationed in Utah that Jim met his wife,Yvonne, of 51 years, on a blind date. They married on May 1, 1968, and in 1969 their daughter Jamie was born. While stationed at Lackland serving as a Military Training Instructor, their youngest daughter Jodie was born in 1972.
A few years after moving to Eielson in 1976, Jim fell in love with the Alaskan lifestyle and moved his family to North Pole, the place he called home. He had many hobbies including gunsmithing, reloading, traveling in his RV, and riding his Harley. He was a skilled marksman, often shooting in competitions with his grandson, Joshua. Jim was an avid UAF hockey fan, rooting on The Nanooks for over 30 years.
Jim was the patriarch of his family, a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, brother and a good friend to many. He was strong and proud, and will be missed by all who knew and loved him.
Jim is survived by his wife, Yvonne Samuelson, of North Pole; mother Dorothy Fredrick, of Merced, California; daughter and son-in-law Jamie and Bob Fine, of North Pole; daughter and son-in-law Jodie and Cliff Schutte, of Springfield, Oregon; grandchildren Joshua and Haley Fine, of North Pole, and Andrew Schutte, of Springfield; sister and brother-in-law Beverley and Barry Bennett, of Navarre, Florida; brother and sister-in-law Leonard and Debbie Samuelson, of Merced; stepdaughter and stepson-in-law Shelly and Que Gallegos, of St. George, Utah; stepson Scott Sugihara of Ogden, Utah, and many other extended family and close friends. Jim is preceded in death by his father Elmer Samuelson, and his stepfather and friend, James Fredrick.
Jim's family would like to thank the doctors, nurses and hospice staff at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital for the exceptional care they provided to him during his illness. Jim will be interred at Fort Richardson National Cemetery, Anchorage, AK on Monday, July 13, 2020, at 2:30 p.m.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Mar. 8, 2020.