Long time Alaskan John Maakestad died on Dec. 31, 2014, at the Anchorage Pioneer's Home. He was born on July 3, 1918, in the Norwegian American community of Petersburg, Alaska, where his father, Walter John Maakestad, along with Laura Ellefson Maakestad, had been called to serve. He lived there for his first two years and the family returned from 1928-'33, when his father again accepted a call to serve the Petersburg Lutheran Church. Those were lastingly impressionable years for a young man and he loved the active boyhood of a Southeastern Alaskan life. The family had a small powerboat called "The Ole" his father used to minister to the logging camps, for fishing and various family excursions. From Petersburg the family moved on to Pasadena, Calif., Norge, Va., and settled in Cranfields Gap, near Waco, Texas. Following his father's call to the ministry, John attained his Bachelors Degree in History and Classics from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, in 1941, and his Divinity degree from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., in 1945. In 1948, he married Louise Knutson from Oslo, Texas, and the young couple settled in Stanwood, Wash., Pastor John's first call to parish ministry. Alaska again beckoned and, in 1950, Pastor John and Louise moved to Fairbanks, where daughter, Laura and sons, Walter and Gene (deceased) were born. The family then moved to Shishmaref where daughter, Ellen was born and then Nome, where Muriel joined the family. In 1963, the Maakestad family moved to Berkeley, Calif., as John attended Clinical Pastoral Education. In 1963, the family drove the Alcan from Texas to Anchorage where John began service as Chaplain for the Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API) in January of 1964. Daughter, Carol was born the following year. He retired from API in 1984, yet continued chaplaincy service at Providence and Humana for several years. Pastor John loved to cross country ski and to sailboat on Kashwitna Lake. He was active in Sons of Norway, served as Wing Chaplain for the Civil Air Patrol and was most pleased to have begun the Sunday evening Alaska Native Fellowship to eventually become the Alaska Native Lutheran Church. He is survived by his wife, Louise; daughter, Laura (and John) Sullivan of Hawaii; son, Walter (and Molly) Maakestad of Lake Minchumina; daughters, Ellen and Muriel Maakestad of Anchorage; daughter, Carol (and Dr. Steve) Anderson; granddaughter, Ingrid Anderson; and grandsons, Joshua and Ethan Anderson of Mankato, Minn.; granddaughter, Kari (and Jeffrey) Gimbel; and great-granddaughters, Molly Jean and Piper Lee Gimbel of Fairbanks; and grandson, Jon Maakestad of Fairbanks, Alaska. Services will be held on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015, with a visitation starting at 4:30 p.m. and the service beginning at 5 p.m. at the Lutheran Church of Hope, located at 1847 W Northern Lights Blvd. in Anchorage, Alaska.
Published by Anchorage Daily News on Jan. 4, 2015.