Kaare Ness
1928 - 2016
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Kaare Ness

Alaska Fishing Pioneer

1928 - 2016

Kaare Ness, founding partner of Seattle-based Trident Seafoods

Corporation, passed away peacefully the morning of Saturday, January 23, after living a remarkable life. His life was a journey of faith and determination that took him from the small island of Karmoy on the Norwegian coast to the far reaches of Alaska's Aleutian Island chain where his skill as a fisherman and his personal integrity earned the respect of all who knew him. A true pioneer of modern North Pacific fisheries, he was eager to succeed, yet just as eager to share his knowledge and his success with his family, his partners and his community.

Born into a family of nine children in 1928, Kaare's formal education was interrupted in the 4th grade when the Nazis occupied his schoolhouse. By the age of 15 he was working at sea to help his family survive.

"The work here was fishing," Kaare recalled. But the herring stocks dwindled, and Kaare wondered how he could ever afford to build a house and raise a family with his wife Sigrunn. Life itself proved tough to cling to, as he learned one trip when a wave washed him overboard, and the cold water of the North Atlantic did its best to suck the heat from his spirit. Thanks to the bravery of his captain and what Kaare came to know as "the hand of God," he was saved and invigorated with a Christian spirit that guided him the rest of his life.

What a life it was- first following his father and fellow Norwegian countrymen to America and the scallop grounds off New Bedford, Massachusetts. Then to Alaska where he became not only a highline crab skipper, but a loyal partner and counselor to so many others, including Chuck Bundrant with whom he built the Billikin, Alaska's first modern king crab catcher-processor. Together they founded what has become North America's largest vertically integrated seafood harvesting and processing company-Trident Seafoods.

He was a founding director of Viking Bank, and over the years Kaare helped scores of others in Alaska, in Ballard, and in Norway keep a true course toward success. Ever loyal to his Karmoy countrymen and his Norwegian-American community, Kaare Ness demonstrated his personal generosity time and time again to individuals and organizations far too numerous to list. Among those he helped most were the Nordic Heritage Museum, Pacific Lutheran University, King's Schools, the Seattle Fishermen's Memorial, the Karmoy Fishermen's Memorial, and Karmoy's Loftet House for drug and alcohol counseling.

Throughout his later years Kaare received many well-deserved honors from the community he served and the country that was his homeland. In 2012 he was knighted by King Harald of Norway, receiving the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit for fostering Norwegian-American relations and spearheading the creation of a memorial honoring more than 100 fishermen from Karmoy who had been lost at sea.

Surrounded by honor, admiration and respect for his personal accomplishments, Kaare remained

a humble man who always enjoyed a cup of coffee and a story that made him smile.

"I never dreamed that one day I would own a big ship," he once said, recalling his boyhood in Karmoy. "Maybe a little fishing boat ... but nothing big."

Kaare is survived by his wife of 66 years, Sigrunn; son Arne (Anne) Ness and daughter Cindy Ness (Leif) Mannes. From son Arne are grandson Shane (Emily) Ness with great grandchildren Maddox and Colton; and grandson Kurt (Geneva) Ness with great grandchildren Charlotte and Christian. From daughter Cindy are grandchildren Kristina, Spencer and Frank (Meghan) Mannes and great grandson "Baby" Oliver. Kaare has four living sisters -Betty Nes Wabey, Gurina (Richard) Blouin, Else Dordy Halvorson and Sigrid Holgersen, along with two brothers-Odd (Marit) Nes and Magne (Berit) Nes, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Kaare Ness was a gentleman giant who will be greatly missed by his family, his "Trident family" and the Ballard community.

A celebration of Kaare Ness's life has been scheduled for 2pm, April 16, at the Aurora Church of the Nazarene, located at 1900 North 175th St., Shoreline WA, 98133.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the charity of one's choice.

A video documentary of

The Kaare Ness Story can be accessed via YouTube at


To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Seattle Times on Apr. 3, 2016.
Celebration of Life
02:00 PM
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