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Alfred Arthur Carlson was born August 11, 1922, in the tiny fishing community of Chignik, Alaska. Alfred passed away on October 25, 2022, at the Oregon Veterans Home in The Dalles, Oregon with family by his side. ... Read More
Alfred Arthur Carlson was born August 11, 1922, in the tiny fishing community of Chignik, Alaska. Alfred passed away on October 25, 2022, at the Oregon Veterans Home in The Dalles, Oregon with family by his side. Alfred’s parents were Peter and Lucy (Stepanoff) Carlson. Alfred’s mother passed away when he was just a small child. While his father did his best to raise his five children, hard times fell on Chignik, and the five siblings end up in the Kodiak Baptist Orphanage on Woody Island, Alaska around 1929. Here, each child shared in the work based on their age and abilities. They were taught to raise livestock, tend gardens, repair buildings and equipment, fish, can, bake, cook, wash and mend, just to name a few things. They were also given religious and character training, so when they left the orphanage at around age 18, they were ready to face the world. The vast majority of these children excelled in life, including Alfred.
Alfred however, left the orphanage at around age 15, transferring to an all native high school in Wrangell, Alaska. Alfred learned many new skills at Wrangell, and also became acquainted with his future wife Margaret Evans, also a student at Wrangell. Here he continued his education, and in his spare time, began a lifelong love of commercial fishing and net mending. Near the end of high school, WW2 had begun and Pearl Harbor had been bombed. Upon graduation, he immediately joined the US Navy. Alfred received quartermaster training and was assigned to the USS Liscome Bay. During deployment in the war zone of the South Pacific, he was reassigned to sister ship USS Anzio; both ships were Casablanca Class Escort Carriers. Two weeks after his reassignment, he watched in anguish as his original ship, the USS Liscome Bay was lost at sea, falling victim to a Japanese torpedo. Of the 916 sailors aboard the USS Liscome Bay, 644 perished in the 20 minutes that it took to sink.
After the War, Alfred ran into his high school acquaintance Margie (Margaret) Evans in Seattle. This time around, it was love at first site. They began dating, and it wasn’t long before the two were married. Margie convinced Alfred to attend Central Washington College in Ellensburg and get a teaching degree. He hitchhiked back and forth from Seattle to Ellensburg for three years, balancing work, home and schooling. While he and Margie never had children of their own, they both had long careers as grade school teachers in Tacoma, Washington. This allowed them to influence the lives of hundreds of children in an incredibly positive way over the years, not to mention becoming real live folk heroes to all of their many nieces, nephews and extended family members in their spare time. Alfred taught at six different grade schools in the Tacoma area throughout his career.
Alfred dovetailed commercial fishing activity and net mending with everything else that was going on in his life, always falling back on the fishing industry. He fell into a pattern of teaching school, then fishing commercially in the summers for many years. Always near the saltwater, he also did a couple stints at Foss Tugboats, both before and after the Navy. That and the GI Bill helped pay his way through college. Alfred fished commercially everywhere from Bristol Bay, Alaska, all through the panhandle of Alaska, and throughout Puget Sound in Washington, owning different boats throughout his life. The last fishing trip he completed was at 91 years of age, on his own boat the “Margie”. Alfred has taught numerous individuals the art of net mending, and actually wrote a book on the subject that graces the shelves in many libraries, and also found online (alsfishnetrepair.com). During his retirement years, Alfred would seek out high schools in the Puget Sound area to teach after school net mending classes to the kids, and also mended nets for other fishermen.
When wife Margie suffered a brain aneurysm, Alfred took up knitting, as a way to teach her how to connect her brain to her hands once again. Mission accomplished. True to his heritage, Alfred went on to create Scandinavian fisherman style sweaters, and many relatives were lucky recipients of the finely crafted, intricate gifts. Alfred was always up for a challenge. He took Russian language lessons while in his 70’s. As a volunteer at his church, Alfred was teaching Russian children how to speak English. He believed it would be helpful to learn their native language first. Alfred was truly a lifelong learner and teacher.
Alfred loved to entertain folks by singing and playing his guitar, banjo or ukulele, whether it would be with the Tacoma Banjo Club, or entertain at a local retirement home. There are many great memories of him playing at family gatherings. He carried on the tradition all the way to his own assisted living facility, where he insisted on owning six ukuleles. This allowed him to give lessons to the other residents or employees that expressed an interest in learning to play.
Alfred was preceded in death by his parents, his beloved wife Margie of over 60 years, and his four sisters, Helen, Elsie, Minnie and Mary. His contributions to make the world a better place cannot be overstated. He leaves behind numerous nieces and nephews, and other family and friends, all who feel blessed to have known this extremely talented, compassionate, great man.
Arrangements are under the direction of Anderson's Tribute Center (Funerals • Receptions • Cremations) 1401 Belmont Avenue, Hood River, Oregon 97031. Visit www.AndersonsTributeCenter.com to leave a note of condolence for the family.
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