Paul L. Kirsteatter
1922-2012
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Paul L. Kirsteatter was born Aug. 17, 1922, in Illinois. As a young boy, Paul helped his father drive cattle from New Mexico across the border into Mexico. When his time came, young Paul answered his country's call to service and served in the Air Force in Africa and the Aleutian Islands during World War II. He was a prisoner of war during his service.
In 1945, he was discharged at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and wasted no time returning to Alaska. 
Paul and a friend headed north and realized building materials were scarce in Alaska after the war. Driving the Alaska Highway, they started buying materials and facilities that had been used to build the road. They sold the materials to little communities that were beginning along the highway. While he was working at the Little Gerstle River Bridge, he met his future wife, Margaret Jacobs. In 1943, a diphtheria epidemic devastated Chief John Healy's people, so he moved them, including Margaret, to the highway area at the Little Gerstle River. 
Paul and Margaret formed a lifetime bond and love. Margaret spoke little English, but, listening to Paul and the radio, she soon learned. Paul learned a little Athabascan and Margaret's ancient tricks of wolf trapping, snaring wolverine and subsistence living off the land. After they married, they moved to a cabin on Healy Lake, where they spent their life together and raised their children. 
Paul was known throughout the Interior as a master wolf trapper. In the early years there was a bounty on wolves, and the Department of Fish and Game paid cash. Using his dog team, Paul knew all the wolf dens, from Healy Lake to Joseph in the Fortymile and east to the Canada border. He was the first trapper to use the gang set. In his later years, he taught trapping classes at the Alaska Trappers Association. Paul never would tell Margaret when he would be returning because he never knew, and he didn't want anyone sending out a search party. Paul was gone a lot and Margaret and the kids always got moose meat for the winter, checked the fish nets and stored the fish for them and the dog team while keeping the home fires burning. 
When he was home, the kids remember Paul home-schooling them by gas lantern light. Paul and Margaret lived for many years in a tiny cabin, raising four children and living a subsistence lifestyle. 
Paul is remembered by his many friends and family members as a man of his word, a man to lend a helping hand to anyone in need and a true Alaskan in deed and spirit. He will be greatly missed by his many friends and his family. 
Paul passed away July 23, 2012, from complications from open heart surgery in the Palo Alto, Calif., Veterans Hospital, just short of his 90th birthday. 
He requested there be no services. A celebration of his life for family and close friends will be held at 2 p.m. Aug. 18, 2012, at Healy Lake. It is a potluck, so please bring a salad, casserole or dessert and your favorite stories to share.
Paul's greatest joy was his family and many friends. He is survived by: daughter, Dorothy Kirsteatter; stepdaughter, Josephine Beaver; grandchildren, Ellenore Kirsteatter and her child Gavin Schultz, Paul (Deedle) A. Kirsteatter, Melissa Erickson and her children, Evelyn Comb and Lorinda Comb, Brian Erickson and his child, Meleia, Lisa Riyett and her child, Kiara Rivett; niece, Sarah Gorrod (Dan); sons, Casey Gorrod and his children, Kaylce, Jasmine and Lindsey, and Travis Gorrod and his child, Rachelle Phipps; nephew, David Joe Sr. and his son, David Joe Jr.; brother, Fred Kirsteatter of Arizona and his children Kirk in Utah, Kathy Teufel (Jerry) and her son, Dallas, in Wisconsin.

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Published in Daily News-Miner on Jul. 31, 2012.
Memories & Condolences
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13 entries
August 9, 2012
Thank you to Paul and Margaret for allowing my family to be part of your family. Paul and Margaret were like Uncle and Aunt to me when I was little. We will miss Paul and Fred during our adventures at Healy Lake. Paul was steady as a rock,and devoted to his family and to Healy Lake! He always lent a helping hand, or a tool, no matter what the circumstances. He never told us how we should do something, but would always offer sugestions if we just asked. We still laugh about the moose he caught up the channel without a shot fired! Our thoughts are with the Kirsteatter family!

Walt & Katherine Schlotfeldt
Walt Schlotfeldt
August 7, 2012
Since I was in grade school and over half a century, I have considered Paul a truly exceptional person. Thank you Paul for all the help you have given me in the past, for all the stories you told, for welcoming to your home, and for being an outstanding role model. You will be missed.
Thomas Clausen
August 5, 2012
On behalf of the Alaska Trappers Association I would like to send our condolences to Pauls family. His contribution to the trapping community was immensurable and he will be greatly missed.
Joe Letarte
August 5, 2012
Knowing that we all shall leave this earth in time, I choose to hang on to the wonderful memories I have of you and your family, you are still holding a very special part of my adventures in Alaska,,Healy Lake is still my favorite, with your smiley face, and fun and funny stories. Can only imagine the sorrow of loosing 2 family members in such a short time,,,my prayers and love to you all!
Kathy Moffit
August 3, 2012
The the family of Paul;
I am truely sorry for the loss of another loved one. It is often difficult to find the right words to express your sympathy to someone during this time of another sorrow in all of your lives, but we know that his not suffering anymore and his okay with his family. Prayers sent to all of you. My visit with Fred, i would get up in the morning and go over and have tea with Paul and he had many stories to tell and they were all interesting, he told me so many of them and his words in his obitarary tells it all. Love you all!
Ronald & Freida McCord
August 2, 2012
i will miss haveing coffee and litsen to gramps story,s i will always remeber you. you will trult be missed by everyone who knew you.
john gould
August 1, 2012
The trapping community has lost a great teacher and mentor in Paul. He will be greatly missed.
Ross Beal
August 1, 2012
I love and miss you gramps
Ellenore Kirsteatter
August 1, 2012
You are in my thoughts and prayers.
ted charles
July 31, 2012
Paul, (Pappy) you will be dearly missed by all. We will never forget the many stories and advice you have given us over the years. Thank you for always being there for all of us when ever we needed a ear or shoulder. We love you lots. You will always be in our hearts.
Love from the Healy's Gary and Mary
Gary and Mary Healy
July 31, 2012
As a 15 year old boy In September of 1959, I was moose hunting with my father and two younger brothers at Healy Lake. I was sent to Big Delta for tools and had boat trouble along the way. I put a message on Tundra Topic saying I'd be a day late returning & Paul heard it, late at night, at his cabin. He got up and boated over to the our cabin to make certain my father had heard it also. Upon arriving he discovered my two young brothers, alone, as my father hadn't heard the message and had taken a canoe out to find me. Paul immediately searched the lake, found my father hanging onto the overturned canoe and pulled him from the freezing water, saving his life. The only reward Paul would ever accept from my family was a "Thank You". That is kind of man Paul Kirsteatter was. The "tracks" he left in life will be impossible to fill.
Tom Jensen
July 31, 2012
Paul was indeed a man of his word and a character all his own. I have shared many hunting trips with him and have many fond memories of him. He was always willing to lend a helping hand and shared many stories of his many adventures in the interior of Alaska, especially Healy Lake. My sincerest condolences to the family, Paul will be greatly missed.
Gary Lee
July 31, 2012
Paul was a wonderful and gentle man. He loved his family and he loved Healy Lake. My prayers go with you Paul as you join Margaret on another frontier.
Althea St. Martin
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