Out of respect for the families
that have shared their
earthquake stories on this page, please do not re-print
or re-publish this information in ANY FORM, as I have
them it would never be used commercially;
this information is protected by copyscape.
In Loving Memory
The stories you find on this page
were written and submitted by the family and
friends of those that lost their lives as the result
of the 1964 Alaska Earthquake. If you would like to include
the story of your loved one, please contact me.
Rest In Peace
AND EDDIE ANDERSON (of Kodiak)
Coleen writes: I have done exhaustive searches to find out who
Rudy and Eddie Anderson are; I am not even certain that they were related.
All I know for sure is that they both are on all of the 3/27/1964 fatality
lists for Kodiak. In my search, I did find two brothers: Rudy Anderson
and Edwin Anderson who were raised in an Ouzinkie children's home together;
Rudy was born about 1934 and Edwin "Eddie" was born about 1935. I'm wondering
if they are brothers who perished in the tsunamis that hit Kodiak,
but I can't be certain. If you have any information on these two people,
PLEASE contact me.
MARY ANDERSON (of
Mary Anderson was was last seen
by Chuck Mackey aboard one of the Kodiak Fishery boats at the dock
in Kodiak. He said she had a young girl with her. Three days after the
tsunami hit, Mary's body was found in the lazarette of the sunken boat
near the King Crab Cannery dock, but the young girl was not with her.
(Interview done with Chuck Mackey in 1994 by
Paul Schwartz as part of the Kodiak Oral History Project)
(I have never found another mention of the young girl that
was seen with Mary.If you can add to Mary Anderson's story, please
contact me: Coleen).
EARL STUART FAMILY (of Valdez)
"Earl Stuart, his wife Sammie Marie
Stuart and the couples three children were all lost in the collapse
of the Valdez dock. They had driven on the dock in the family car
just minutes before the disaster. The children are Larry 12, Deborah
9 and Janice 7."
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 5/2/1964
JOHN "Sut" LARSEN (of Afognak)
[I'm] the niece of John Sut Larsen who perished
off of Spruce Cape when his boat, the F.V.Spruce Cape, was smashed
by the second tsunami wave. We were on the mountain and heard him
say they just rode one wave, a bigger one was coming, "tell my family
I love them". Still makes me cry! While Uncle Johnny's body was found
on Spruce Cape, none of the others were found.
Eli Wasilie was also on the F.V.Spruce Cape when
it went down; he was from Larsen Bay. There is a Memorial for the
crew of the F.V.Spruce Cape at the Spruce Cape housing subdivision
in Kodiak; the streets of the subdivision are named after the lost fishermen.
Written by Olga DuVall Rowland of Afognak
JOHN "Sutt" LARSEN (of Kodiak)
My Uncle John "Sutt" Larsen was at Kodiak when the earthquake hit.
Him and the others headed out into Marmot Bay on the way back to Afognak
to check on his mother (Olga Naumoff Larsen). He was saying his last
goodbyes to his mother by "talking in the blind" on shortwave radio frequency
Written by John Watson,
nephew of John "Sutt" Larsen
KOMPKOFF (age 9) (of Chenega)
NORMA JEAN KOMPKOFF (age 3)(of
When the ground finally stopped shaking, the
water went out of the bay. The whole bay was empty! When the
first giant wave was coming in, my father[Nicholas Kompkoff]
grabbed my three year old sister Norma Jean and me and told Julia
[a 9 year old sister] to follow him and to run as fast as she could.
The wave caught Julia as it was going out and when my father reached
out to grab her, he lost hold of Norma. I remember seeing my godmother,
Anna Vlasoff, standing in the doorway of her house which was floating
by. [Note from Coleen: Julia and Norma Kompkoff and Anna Vlasoff all
Written by Carol Ann Kompkoff
JOHN "Sut" LARSEN (of Afognak)
HARRY NIELSEN (of Afognak)
THEODORE PANAMARIOFF (of Afognak)
ELI WASILIE (of Larsen Bay)
Four fishermen, aboard the fishing boat,
The Spruce Cape, were on their way back to Afognak from
Kodiak when the tsunami hit the boat and broke it apart. The
Skipper of the boat was Afognak resident John "Sut" Larsen;
the other three men were Harry Nielsen of Afognak, Eli Wasilie
of Larsen Bay and Theodore Panamarioff of the village of Ouzinkie.
Larsen's body was found 4/3/1964 at Cape Spruce (ironically the
landmark that his boat was named after). The other bodies were never
found. Information courtesy of www.afognak.org
Correct spelling of Harry Nielsen provided by his niece: Delice
CHIEF SIMMIE ALEXANDROFF (of Kaguyak)
NICK ZEEDAR (of Kaguyak)
DONALD WYATT (of California)
The village of Kaguyak is at the head of Kaguyak
Bay on the southeast coast of Kodiak Island. The village is
on a narrow ribbon of land with the bay on one side and a fresh
water lake on the other side. When the earthquake hit, the villagers
retreated to the safety of a hill behind the lake.
The first wave lifted village skiffs
out of the bay and deposited them into the lake behind the
village. Not knowing that three more tsunami waves would completely
obliterate their village, some of the village men left the safety
of the hill and went down to the lake to try and secure the skiffs.
Shortly after the first wave, the men
saw a flare about 2 miles from the village. One of the men,
Walter Cohen, ran towards the flare, and found two young Californian
geologists, Donald and Joyce Wyatt. Cohen told them to stay on
high ground, but they insisted on going back to the village with
him. When the next wave hit, it caught Cohen and the Wyatt's near
the village church. Four villagers in a skiff (Chief Simmie Alexandroff,
Nick Zeedar, Victor Melovedoff and Max Shelikoff) saw that Cohen
and the Wyatt's were in trouble and pulled them into the skiff.
The next wave washed 10 village houses
and the church out to sea and pushed the Chief's skiff back
up to the edge of the lake, where Shelikoff, Cohen and Melovedoff
jumped out onto dry ground. Donald Wyatt literally threw his wife
onto the shore, and Shelikoff, Cohen and Melovedoff took her up the hill
to where the other villagers were.
It was completely dark when the next wave
flipped the big skiff holding Chief Simmie, Nick Zeedar
and Donald Wyatt. The villagers last saw the Chief (by flashlight)
trying to hang on to the overturned skiff; his body was never
found; Zeedar and Wyatt's bodies were found the next day; Zeedar's
was on the beach, tangled in the rafters of a broken roof section and
Wyatt's body was found floating in the lake.
ROBERT HARRISON (of Valdez)
Robert Harrison is my Great Uncle.
He was working as a longshoreman on the dock the morning
of the earthquake unloading the freighter Chena. Submitted by Mike Day
Robert "Bob" Harrison, Doug Granger and "Dutch" Schmidt all died together
when the tsunami destroyed the Valdez dock: all three were related by marriage.
Doug and Bob married sisters (Glenna and Fay Day) and "Dutch" was married
to Lula Belle Day (Oma Belle Day's sister-in-law). Info from Oma
Jean Granger Madsen
LOUIS McKENZIE (of Washington)
ROBERT McKenzie (age 7)(of
RICHARD McKenzie (age 6)(of Washington
TAMARA McKENZIE (age 3)(of
Monte (age 29) and Rita Kay (age 29) McKenzie
of Tacoma were camping at Beverly Beach State Park in Oregon,
with their 4 children. Monte was a Boeing engineer and Rita
was a Red Cross senior life saver.
The family was still mourning the tragic
death of their oldest child, 9 year old Susannne, who
died from massive burns (8 months earlier) when her clothes
caught fire while lighting a camp fire. Monte, Rita and their
4 remaining children were sleeping in a makeshift driftwood
shelter, on the beach when a series of tsunami waves hit. The
first wave woke the family up, covering them with water and they had
to scramble, to get to a small pocket of air at the top of their shelter.
As the family exited the shelter, they were being pelted and tumbled
with logs, rocks and debris. When the wave receded, the family gathered
together and Rita was holding the hands of two of her children when the
next wave hit, knocking her unconscious and taking all for children out
to sea where they drowned (Louis 8, Bobby 7, Ricky 6, Tammi 3 and the
family dog). Rescue deputies found Rita unconscious and Monte in shock;
both were taken to the hospital. Search parties looked for the children
for 3 days, but only Ricky's body was found. Mrs. McKenzie was treated
for a concussion and serious cuts and abrasions. All five McKenzie children
died within 8 months of each other, how tragic. In an attempt to heal;
the McKenzie's filed papers to adopt 4 children, but the stress of the
entire year ended their desire to adopt AND their marriage.
Mrs. Rita Kay McKenzie (Jepson) died, 3/1/2014, just weeks
shy of the 50th anniversary of the loss of her 5 children. Through
my research, the Support Officer of Whatcom County, Washington located
the cemetery where the McKenzie children have memorial gravestones
and arranged for Rita Kay's ashes to be buried there with them.
Rest in Peace
Suzanne Kay McKenzie 7/6/1954-8/31/1963
Louis Charles McKenzie 2/25/1956-3/27/1964
Robert Russell McKenzie 3/12/1957-3/27/1964
Richard Andrew McKenzie 3/9/1958-3/27/1964
Tamera Nannette McKenzie 6/26/1960-3/27/1964
Each child has a memorial grave
stone in the Mt. View Memorial Park in
Lakewood, Pierce County, Washington
JONES (of Seward)
My father was William Jones. We
lived in Seward but he was on a fishing boat in Kodiak
that day. The crew tried to take the boat out before
the tidal wave hit. My dad was the only one to die.
But, what has always bothered me is he is not mentioned
in Kodiak deaths nor Seward. He left behind a wife
and 6 children. His body was never found.
For children, that is a terrible thing. Submitted
by Debra Jones, Daughter of William Jones
BUSKIRK (of Valdez)
Jack Theodore Van Buskirk 1926-1964 died
at Valdez. He was the son of Ralph & Frances
Elba Onalee Harris VanBuskirk. Husband of Betty and father
of Esther and Mark.
Lee Marlin Styer, was the son of Leroy and
Alice (Hayden) Styer of Anchorage, he was 18. Lee
had gone to the J.C. Penny building in downtown Anchorage
to visit a friend and died there when the building collapsed
during the 1964 Alaska Earthquake. He was a senior in high
and photo submitted by Suzanne Cook Taylor
RICHARD JAY ROBINSON (of Valdez)
I was 18 months old when
my father was killed. My father, Richard Jay
Robinson, (1936-1964), he was the Branch President of
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Valdez,
Alaska. He worked with his father, Rex Johnson Robinson,
they had a sawmill together. Richard also owned and operated
a 21' cabin cruiser, named the "Nomad". He was also the
#1 longshoreman in Valdez. He, as well as many other men
from town, were unloading a ship down at the dock when the earthquake
struck. His body was never found. Richard was the husband of
Sharon, and father of three children; Lynne, Richard II, and Gregory,
all survivors. (his son Lynne was killed 24 March 1978 - also on
Good Friday) Written by Greg Robinson,
son of Richard Robinson
WALLACE (of Kodiak)
JACK BUSHOR (of Kodiak)
Airman Gordon Wallace, his wife Arlene and
7 year old step-son Jack Leroy Bushor (son of Jack
Bushor Sr.) were headed back to the Naval Base on Kodiak
Island when the earthquake struck. Gordon Wallace
survived, but his wife's body was found inside of the
family car and his step-sons body was found nearby. Arlene
and son were buried in the Shenango Valley Cemetery in Mercer
Co., Pennsylvania. researcher
VOSGIEN (of Kodiak)
MAURICE NEWTON CURRY (of Kodiak)
The Art Vosgien family and the Maurice Curry
family were near Kalsin Bay on Kodiak Island when
the earthquake hit. The two families tried to get back
to the Naval Base. Maurice Curry 70 and 12 year old Richard Vosgien
started walking to find help; they were swept away by a tsunami wave
THERESA MICHELSON (age 6)
RANDY MICHELSON (age 5)
KEITH MICHELSON (age 2)
MICKI BARNES (age 5)
RICKI BARNES (age 4)
VICKI BARNES (age 6)
My brother, Lewis Michelson and his partner
David Barnes were living together with their 6 children
in Whittier for at least a year. The summer before,
they had built a cabin and they lived there all summer with
the 6 kids and fished for salmon. That winter, they moved
into an empty house in Whittier (I think it was in the lumber
yard). There was a couple living in one of the other houses in this
"camp" as caretakers of the buildings. The day of the quake, my
brother had returned from being out on the water a short time
before the quake. It was my brothers birthday. Lewis,
Dave, 6 kids and a friend with her son had gone to the caretaker
couples house for a birthday celebration when the earthquake hit.
Someone who was at the Base in Whittier wrote to my mother
and gave her this information. She said that all that was left
of the house was kindling!! My brother was born on March
27th Good Friday and died on his birthday March 27th Good Friday.
I think Dave Barnes was from South Dakota. Their bodies were
Written by Margaret Basta Montana
FAMILY and BARNES FAMILY (of Whittier)
We left Whittier in the fall of 1964. I was
working for Union 76 at the time and I spent the
summer after the earthquake fueling equipment. There
was more than one tsunami. The one that reached the Head
of the Bay (by the tunnel) washed on shore far enough
to destroy the Two Brothers Lumber Co. The main tsunami
was directed more at the town of Whittier. It was about 45'
high. My wife and I and 3 kids ran from it because it was
coming right at us. The other sawmill, Columbia Lumber Co.,
where most of the people were lost, was located close to the tunnel
end of the existing small boat harbor. Dave Barnes was my wife's
cousins husband; their children had been to our home many times.
I have pictures of Dave and Lewis Michelson's children
at a birthday party with my kids at our Union Oil apartment in Whittier.
I also have pictures of Leonard and Daisy Day who worked
at the mill and were lost in the tidal wave. Submitted
by Dick Osburn
JAY ROBINSON (of Valdez)
My husband, Richard Jay Robinson was one
of those killed on the dock in Valdez. The Stuart
family (of 5) were waiting for him to get off work
so they could go for a boat ride together. I was at work
or I would have been there also. We had three little ones.
Written by Sharon Robinson May
REED (of Cape St. Elias)
Frank Reed was a Coast Guardsman on Cape
St. Elias on the southwestern tip of Kayak Island.
During the earthquake, his leg was broken by a falling
rock. During the process of being evacuated by three
fellow Guardsmen, a 10' wave swept all four of the men
out to sea. The three men that were rescuing Reed managed
to swim to safety, Frank Reed did not.
HATCH (of Seward)
My father Jesse Lee Hatch was born in
Seward, Alaska. He was the son of Peter and Annie Hatch
who met at the Jesse Lee Home in Seward. My father
was fishing out of Seward the day the earthquake hit
on a 56' boat called the CHRIS.
Submitted by Lisa Graham
said this about Jesse Lee Hatch: Had been out seal
hunting with Frank Walunga in a 14' wooden skiff; the
two men were last seen 12 minutes after earthquake by Dr.
Starr and Bob Hayes; hunters refused aide. Bodies never found.
JESSE LEE HATCH (of
Jesse Hatch was my Uncle, he was
a commercial fisherman who died in the 1964 earthquake, he
was never found. They only found pieces of the boat. Submitted by Pam Cook
(age 9) (of
NORMA JEAN KOMPKOFF (age 3)
Nicholas Kompkoff Sr. and his 9 year old daughter Julia
were trying to run away from the tsunami wave. Nicholas was carrying his
two youngest children as he ran. The wave hit all of them and when Nicholas
was thrown across the creek, he lost grip of one of children he was carrying.
Nine year Julia and 3 year old Norma Jean were swept away by the water, never
to be found.
Submitted by Avis Kompkoff
PAUL BLEDSOE (of Kodiak)
Clarence Paul Bledsoe was born November
8, 1920 in Ellensburg, Washington to Howard and Vera
(De Weese) Bledsoe. Clarence was never married and
had no children. Submitted by Elaine
ZOOK (of Valdez)
On March 27, 1964, I was a girl of 9
living with my immediate family in Ketchikan.
Both sets of grandparents, as well as some aunts
and uncles and cousins, were living in Valdez.
My mother's brother, Gerald Zook, was among those who were
lost. Gerald Lee (Hibner) Zook was a longshoreman and was
working on the dock at Valdez when the earthquake hit.
His body was never found. Jerry, as he was called,
was 27 and was to have been married the following week.
He was born in Wrangell, Alaska and was the son of Nettie Prescott
and Lyle Hibner. He served in the U.S. Navy in the late 1950's
and early 60's. Upon his discharge he went to live in
Valdez near his mother and stepfather (Bill Zook). Submitted by Teresa Hayden Campbell
HOWARD KRIEGER (of Valdez)
Howard Krieger and Paul Gregorieff were
Valdez longshoreman working on the freighter SS Chena
when the earthquake hit. Less than a minute after
the earthquake started, the ground supporting the Valdez
dock collapsed and several hundred feet of the dock slid
into the bay. When that happened, the Chena was
severely pitched and the shifting cargo crushed the two men.
Anna Vlasoff, of Chenega was last seen standing
in the doorway of her house, as it floated by when the tsunami
hit. She was later found dead on the beach
(of Shuyak Island)
I was eleven years old and in Port Williams,
Shuyak Island (north of Kodiak) when the earthquake
hit. A local Native Alaskan man named Sammy Pettikoff
disappeared in Shuyak Strait on his boat immediately
after the earthquake, presumed drowned in the tidal
wave. Submitted by Tom Peterson
My grandfather was Paul Gregorieff.
He died in the Good Friday earthquake. My grandmother
was Mary (Vlasoff) Gregorieff, she died in 2003.
Thank you for putting their names on your web site.
Submitted by Susan Reynaga
CARRIKER (of Valdez)
I lost a very dear friend, Rev. Duanne
Carriker, that day in Valdez. He was the minister
of the Assembly of God Church and worked as a longshoreman.
He was working on the dock at the time the quake hit.
His body was never recovered. He was 33 years old, had been
in the military and attended Bible College. His
wife, small son and daughter were flown out for safety later
that night. Bonnie Carriker is still at the radio
station at North Pole, Alaska. Submitted
by Karen Welborn
MUELLER (of Valdez)
Our father, Donald Mueller, was born
in Davenport Iowa on October 3, 1925. Dad attended
school in Hermann and was a senior in high school when
he was called to army service in W.W.II. He was inducted
in January 1944 and served 8 ½ months in the 35th
Infantry Division and was awarded the Combat Infantryman's
Badge. After discharge, he had several jobs but re-enlisted
in the army in October 1960 and was assigned to US Army Alaska
Yukon Command. He was discharged in October 1963. He remained
in Alaska, working for a construction company and as a part time
employee of the Alaska Steamship Company. He apparently was
on the dock waiting to unload the ship Chena when earthquake hit.
The subsequent tsunami washed him and many others out to sea.
Dads body was never found. My brother and I have letters that dad
wrote to us shortly before the earthquake. My brothers is dated
March 23, 1964. Our father and mother (Norma Hurst Mueller)
were married 10/14/1949 and divorced 6 years later. My brother
and I were raised by our grandparents, Victor and Blanche Mueller.Submitted by the
surviving children of Donald Muelle
PERRY MEAD Jr. (age
12) (of Anchorage)
MERELL MEAD (age 2)
Dr. Perry Mead, a neurosurgeon
in Anchorage, and his wife Wanda (Merrell) Mead, a teacher,
had five children (Perry 12, Pam 11, Penny 8, Paul 4 and
Merrell 2) and a large home in the Turnagain area. Dr. Mead
was at work and Wanda had gone to the store to get Easter gifts
the afternoon of March 27th. When the earthquake started; Penny
ran outside as Perry helped his two younger brothers get out of the house.
When Perry saw the jumble of broken houses, cars, sunken driveways and
uprooted trees all sliding towards Cook Inlet, he panicked and took off
running only to disappear into a whole in the ground; never to be found
again. Two year old Merrell, was standing next to his sister Penny in what
used to be the driveway, when a crack in the earth opened up and "swallowed"
the toddler then closed back up, never to be found again.
An interview with Penny Mead, by Julia O'Malley -
Anchorage Daily News reporter 3/22/2014
STAPP Sr. (of Valdez)
Sterling Stapp was 16 when he watched
his father (also named Sterling Stapp) get washed off
of the Valdez dock during the 1964 tidal wave. Submitted by Honora (Roselyn) Windeler
Lester Finke was my grandfather,
he was killed at Seward in the earthquake/tidal wave.
he was a commercial fisherman and there was lots of
ice floating in the harbor on Good Friday 1964.
After the earthquake, a bunch of men went down to the
docks to check their boats. The tidal wave hit
and they were washed away. Submitted
by Lester Finke
JIM GROWDEN Sr.
(age 29)(of Valdez)
DAVID LEE GROWDEN (age 4) (of Valdez)
JAMES GROWDEN Jr. (age 2) (of Valdez)
Jim Growden was my uncle and I
have such fun memories of him. He would stay with
us in Anchorage when he was in the Army. I remember
the sleigh bells on the roof (SANTA), "LASSIE was
hit by a car last week" (my mother would thump him a good
one as her 4 children were near tears,) he loved burnt toast
(our kitchen always smelled) and he helped my mother out
with the 4 kids when my Dad was up on the north slope for months
at a time. Out of 4 brothers, Jimmy was the one who went
to college (paid for by his older brothers) and became the beloved
teacher and coach. He was so loved by his wife and children
and all of his nephews and me, the one niece in the crowd.
In a nutshell, that is my Uncle Jimmy. I loved him
unconditionally....and all of his practical jokes, unconditionally.
Submitted by Kim Growden
Hammer (age of children corrected by
DAN BODDY (of
Dan Boddy met his wife while he
was stationed in the military in Fairbanks. He had
a variety of jobs including hauling cars over the Alaska
Highway for a Fairbanks car dealership. In the spring
of 1964, there were road restrictions, due to an early spring
thaw, so Dan's usual job of hauling cars was on hold.
Instead, he worked that spring for Lynden Transport and was in
Valdez, the day of the 1964 earthquake, to pick up cargo from
the ship, "Chena". While on the dock, he ran into an old
service buddy and was invited to go into town for a drink and talk
over old times. He declined the offer. The
old friend later told Dan's wife that, as he left Dan on the
dock, and proceeded to walk up the street into town, the earthquake
struck. He turned around and the dock, and everyone on it,
were gone. He said it happened just that fast.
Dan's wife said that when her husband kissed her good-bye, before
driving to Valdez that morning, he was strangely quiet and she
later wondered if he had a premonition about the way the trip would
end. Dan's body was was found, early the following week,
washed up on Potato Point near Valdez. It's ironic that
the family had plans to move out of Alaska, and had already
purchased a home in Seattle, when Dan Boddy died in the 1964
Submitted by daughter, Nancy
Dan Boddy, a Fairbanks resident, worked for
Mitchell Truck and Tractor but took a week long temporary job
with Lynden Transfer to haul 4 loads of construction materials
from the SS Chena in Valdez to Fort Greely. He was on the dock loading
his truck when the tsunami hit.
Information from the Fairbanks
Daily News Miner 3/31/1964
SIMMONS (of Seward)
Bob Simmons was my uncle. My
mother, Barbara Simmons was his sister. The
earthquake was shortly before I was born . According
to my mother uncle Bob was out fishing, & the nameplate
of his boat was found several miles inland. Nothing else
was ever found. Their mother was named Noni. According
to my mother Bob was an accomplished outdoorsman who used to
go out into the Alaskan Wilderness for months at a time &
come back "several pounds heavier". I will inquire
further the next time I see her. He and his brothers and sisters
grew up in Peace River County, Alberta. Submitted
by Bob Blakely
SIMMONS (of Seward)
Robert Martin Simmons was my father. His
date of birth was May 14, 1921 and his date of death
was March 27, 1964. His mother was Olive Lay Simmons
and his father was Lester Benjamin Simmons. Daddy
was Irish, Scot and English as far as I know. Olive worked
as a school teacher in Alberta and died in White Rock, B. C. in
the 1960's. His wife was named Lou , I believe she was Yupik.
Written by Edna Deerunner Simmons
NOTE: Publication done
by NOAA about the earthquake, says that "Lou" was
really Louise Ellanna (maiden name Oukuk) Simmons.
REFT Sr. (of Kodiak)
My father, Albert Reft, Sr. was born
in Karluk. He had 2 brothers, one named Gus Reft
and other Charlie Reft. He also had 2
sisters, Mary (Reft) Gallager and Annie (Reft) Anderson
In 1964 I was 17 y/o myself. I was raised by my aunt
Mary Gallagher and she was married to Thomas
Gallagher. They owned and operated the Polar
Bear Cafe for years, until the tidal wave arrived.
My understanding of the circumstances behind my father's
fate comes to me 2nd hand, through friends who reported
this to my aunt Mary.
Thomas Gallagher was very fond of animals and he had a
large herd of cattle on Long Island and Near
Island as well. At Near Island he also had
pigs and horses. On March 27th my father
was with my uncle Thomas at Near Island to feed the cattle
and the pigs. It was unusual for my father to assist
my uncle in this regard as myself, and my younger brother
Thomas, would always assist our uncle in feeding his
animals. However, that day they were at Near Island and
they used a skiff about 16 foot long with a 25 hp outboard motor.
I was told that when the first shock arrived (and it was large)
that their outboard motor was flung from their skiff by this jolt.
Both my father and uncle had noticed that the water level was
rising and they decided to head back to the boat harbor, which
was a short distance from their skiff on the beach. They
used oars to get themselves back to the boat harbor, and once
there, my uncle scurried up to the dock. However, my father,
noticing a friend's boat being tied at its mooring and the boat's
mooring lines being very taunt from the rising waters, decided
to undo the lines of his friend's boat and he attempted to bring
this boat to safe waters. My uncle Gallagher told us
that he did get the lines undone and attempted to bring the
boat to safer waters. He said he pleaded with my father
to jump the boat, to let it go, and get to safe ground. He
did not listen to my uncle and so he remained on his friend's
boat. We only know that he was on this boat and after all
had settled down no traces of the boat or my father could be found.
Obviously, like many of us at this moment in time, he was not a
of the power a tsunami has, especially the size of the one
that hit Kodiak.
It was several days after the tidal wave action had ceased
that the word about my father's fate had actually
reached us. My aunt Mary Gallagher and
my father were very close to each other and I do remember
her giving me the news about my dad. She was standing
in our sun room, it was a cold, windy and rainy day and
she was full of tears. She stated that all attempts
to find traces of our father and the boat he was on was
in vane. I don't even remember the name of the boat
or the name of the friend my father new that owned it. Submitted by Albert A. Reft Jr.
LEWIS MICHELSON FAMILY
DAVID BARNES FAMILY (of Whittier)
FRANCIS DAMON (of
LARRY DAMON (age 16)
GERIANN DEE WARE born 9/1/1963 died age
6 months (of Whittier)
"On the afternoon train, in to
Whittier, were Mrs. Francis Damon, her 16 year old son
Larry from Soldotna, and David Barnes, an employee of the
Two Brothers Lumber Company who was returning from a week's
absence. Larry was planning on helping Lewis Michelson, another
employee of the lumber company, to get his boat ready for
the fishing season. The Barnes and Michelsons were friends
in nearly identical situations, both raising three small children,
two boys and a daughter, each being 6 years old and younger, without
the mothers. Both lived in company housing near the waterfront.
As the 27th was Lewis Michelson's birthday, all ten had gathered at
his house for a birthday dinner by 5:30 P.M. Another couple, Leonard
Day, a caretaker at the lumber company, and his wife, Alberta, also
lived in company housing. He was retiring and they expected to leave
in a week for the "Lower 48." (Norton and Haas, 1970, P.132). Within
45 seconds of the onset of the earthquake shaking that had started slowly
and quickly became violent, the first oil storage tank failed as its
bottom moved away. About 1 minute after the shaking started the first
wave rose glassy smooth over the bank. A returning breaking wave flooded
the lower part of town to a height of 25 to 26 feet above lower low water,
the water level at that time. Low tide was predicted for 6:16 P.M. at
-0.16 feet. About one minute later a second breaking wave hit at a height
of about 40 feet causing great destruction to the railroad yards. The
maximum height reported in Whittier was 43 feet near the small boat harbor
location at that time. A witness reported seeing a wall of water coming
ashore. Offshore the water had the appearance of something having exploded
underneath the canal about 50 yards off shore. A third breaking wave
hit about a minute later with a height of 30 feet. The ten people at the
Michelson's home and the Day's were washed away and never found. These
were all due to local landslide tsunamis.
At the time of the initial shock and first small wave, Jerry Ware,
a railroad maintenance man, was standing at the car barge dock. He drove
to his house near the depot for his wife and six month old daughter.
A wave came in the window and smashed the trailer, throwing Mrs. Ware
clear but washed away Geriann Dee Ware, the infant. Ware was swept through
the porch wall and rode and swam with the porch door. He found his wife
in the mud and water clear of the trailer. She had serious injuries, with
pieces of wood embedded in her body, a fractured ankle and an injured
shoulder. She was airlifted out of Whittier the next afternoon on the
first flight out and eventually evacuated to Seattle where she recovered.
Her baby was found alive in a snow bank but died shortly afterwards."
(see corrected information written by the Ware
UPDATE AND CORRECTION TO ABOVE STORY:
The inside of Judy Ware's arm was ripped or torn open
from her palm to her elbow by a piece of wood debris. Her
arm was broken between her elbow and shoulder. We were air
lifted to Providence Hospital in Anchorage for emergency
treatment on Sunday (quake was on Friday). Gas gangrene had
attacked her arm near her right wrist. We were evacuated
to Settle so she could receive treatment in an oxygen chamber
for the gangrene. Her leg was not broken, but Jerry Ware's left
ankle was broken. Written and submitted by Jerry and Judy Ware, parents of baby Gerriann Ware who
SALLY EVANOFF (of Chenega)
JOANNE KOMPKOFF (age 3)
I was there in Chenega, I ran from a 96
ft tidal wave, don't know how I made it. We ran up
the mountain and stayed up their all night cause we
heard there was going to be another quake.
We had a fire going. I ran up the mountain without
shoes, so they had a time keeping my feet warm. After the
waves, we were going down to the school and in my heart I knew
Mom and Dad and Joann were gone. My oldest girl Joann, 3, was
with the mom that raised me, so she died with her and dad.
Mom and dad were Willy and Sally Evanoff. The next morning the
mail plane came and picked 15 of us up at once and later went back
and got the others. Twenty seven out of 87 or so people died
that day. There were a lot of good people in Old Chenega.
They found my daughters body on Knight Island two weeks after the
earthquake. Submitted by Avis
JOANNE KOMPKOFF (age 3)
RHONDA ELESHANSKY (age 1)
The small village of Chenega, in Prince William
Sound, was right on the waters edge, with a steep mountain slope
right behind it. When the earth started shaking, in 1964,
everyone grabbed their children and tried to run up the hill to safety;
23 people didn't make it.
The older children were told to run, as fast as
they could, up the hill and the youngest ones were carried by
their parents. SOME villagers didn't even make it to the bottom
of the hill. Willie and Sally Evanoff and their granddaughter Joanne
Kompkoff were washed away with the first wave. Richard Kompkoff
drowned while trying to save Anna Vlasoff, who refused to leave her
injured daughter behind (Anna drowned but the daughter survived). Avis
Kompkoff ran up the hill carrying her baby, with Steve Eleshansky and
his 1 year old daughter Rhonda right behind her. As the wave caught up
to them, Avis looked back and Steve and his daughter were gone; washed
away. One father, carrying two of his sons, was caught up in a tsunami
wave that carried them up the hill and left them (standing) safely on a
DONALD McCLURE (of California)
Donald McClure, 34 years old, was eel fishing with
a friend at the mouth of the Klamath River, just south
of Crescent City, California, when the tsunami carried
both men and the tons of logs and driftwood debris on the
beach about half a mile up the River. My father received
"The Airman's Medal" (posthumously) for his bravery in saving
his friend life that night. He was missing for about
a month and his body was finally discovered on April 26th about
5-1/2 miles north of Patricks Point buoy by fishermen aboard the
boat Sally out of Trinidad Harbor. He was buried May 4th at the
Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.
He left behind a wife and 3 children, the youngest being 3 weeks
old. His father was Thomas Henry McClure of Pikens
County, Georgia, and Ethel Plott of Union County, Georgia. Submitted by Doris
My father, Technical Sergeant Stuart
W. Harrington, was eel fishing on a sandbar in the mouth
of the Klamath River with his best friend, Technical
Sergeant Donald McClure, when the tsunami struck. According
to my father's account to the Air Force, and The Raging
Sea, a book by Dennis Powers published in 2005, the tsunami
pushed them as much as 2 miles up the river. This estimate
was based upon Sgt. Harrington's description of the landmarks
and the site of the first rescue attempt. Stuart Harrington
was a few years older than Don McClure and was terribly hindered
by his weighted chest waders and heavy woolen clothing.
Sgt. McClure pulled him onto a redwood log at a point when he
could no longer pull himself up. He never would have survived without
his dear friend's strength and courage. It is a true tragedy that
Sgt. McClure was lost when the second wave hit as he and my father
were attempting to swim to shore amidst the debris. It is a miracle
that my father survived. My father was pained that his survival received
more media attention at the time than did Sgt. McClure's death.
He grieved the loss of his friend until his own death on September
26, 1993. Submitted by Susan H. Tedrick,
Esq. daughter of Stuart W. Harrington
CLAWSON (of California)
AGATHA CLAWSON (of
EARL EDWARDS (of
JUANITA EDWARDS (of California)
William “Bill” and Agatha Clawson owned
a tavern called the “Long Branch” in Crescent City,
California. They, and a group of friends, were celebrating
Bill Clawson's birthday. After the first tsunami flooding,
The Clawson's, their 27 year old son Gary, Gary's fiancé
Joan Fields, an employee named Juanita Edwards and her
husband Earl, a friend named M. D. McGuire and the tavern
bartender, Bruce Garden all went back to the tavern to inspect
the damage and collect the money from the cash register.
Underestimating what was yet to come,
the group decided to stay at the tavern and have a birthday
toast. The next tsunami wave destroyed the tavern.
As Gary Clawson & McGuire swam to shore, the rest of
the party sought safety on the floating tavern roof. Clawson
found a rowboat and rowed through fires that were floating
on the water, back out to the stranded people. All seven
people got into the rowboat and headed for shore. When the boat was
75' from shore, the water receded as quickly as it came in and
the boat was forced into the Elk Creek Bridge where it broke apart
and everyone was sucked into the culvert. Some were trapped in debris
that was in the culvert but Gary Clawson made it through the
culvert and was carried out to sea (where he was able to swim back
to shore). The bartender saved himself by hanging on to something, but
the other five drowned.
EDWARDS (of California)
My grandmother was Juanita Pearl Edwards and
she died with the others from the Long Branch Tavern
in Crescent City. This was two years before I was
born so I never knew her but she is dearly missed. Submitted by Cheri Goodwin, Oregon
My half sister was Joan Vey Fields Died
in the 1964 Crescent City Tsunami. I remember
Joan as being very sweet and could draw beautiful pictures...
She made me feel special... I was 13 years old when she died
in the 1964 Crescent City Tsunami... I didn't know her well
but I loved her very much... After our father died I never
heard from the family at all... I don't know if she was found
or if she has been buried. We had another sister Joan's Sister
Bev I don't know where she is either. Our father's name was Irvin
Crawford everyone called him Jack all his family are from Lassen
County. I don't know to much about Joan's Mom except that my Mom
and her were friends at one time.
Submitted by Joans
half sister Patty.
Vey Fields was at the Long Branch Tavern at Crescent
City, celebrating the 54th birthday of her future
father in law. Five people from the saloon died
including Joan and her future in-laws. The only survivor
was Joan's fiancé, Gary Clawson.)
WRIGHT (age 1) (of California)
BONITA WRIGHT (age 2)
Mr. and Mrs. William Wright, who lived on Highway
101, Crescent City, California lost their two children
to tsunami waves. Their 1 year old son William and 2 year
old daughter Bonita were pulled from Mrs. Wright's arms by
HILLSBURG (of California)
Lavella Hillsburg of Hammond Hill Road in
Crescent City, California...left her home and drove
to a friends house to warn them of the coming tsunami.
When the group tried to leave in Hillsburg's car, the
wave stalled the car, so the three people tried to evacuate
on foot. Lavella didn't make it, and drowned.
O'LEARY (of Valdez)
DENNIS CUNNINGHAM (of Valdez)
JAMES GROWDEN (of Valdez)
I lost many dear friends in the earthquake. Donnie
(Donald) O'Leary was tying down a load (of freight) on
a Weaver Brother's truck (that was transferring freight from
the dock) when the earthquake struck. He was last seen scrambling
around in the mud after the water was sucked out of the bay. When
the resulting tsunami returned, he was drowned.
Fifteen year old Dennis Cunningham
was our paperboy, he was just waiting on the dock to
sell newspapers, etc., to sailors and tourists when the tsunami
Jimmy Growden and his family
were my neighbors. Our cold storage plant was located
on the old cannery dock and Bob Kulstad worked for us as a
watchman. He and his wife Pat lived in a trailer on the old dock.
Just before the earthquake, Bob had gone to the store for a loaf
of bread and his wife Pat stayed behind. The earthquake and tsunami
collapsed the entire dock and Pat Kulstad was lost.
from: Colleen Joy Hickman
Don O'Leary was born and raised in Fairbanks;
his parents were Mr. and Mrs. Maurice O'Leary. He had two brothers,
George and Ed and two sisters, Mrs. Frank Warren and Diane O'Leary.
He was also survived by two Aunts, Mrs. Ernest Heilman and Mrs.
the Fairbanks Daily News Miner 3/31/1964
SELANOFF (infant) (of Chenega)
ROBERT SELANOFF (infant)
Thomas and Robert Selanoff, infant twin sons
of Paul Selanoff and Junie Eleshansky died in the third tsunami
wave to hit Chenega. Their mother was holding the babies in
her arms while she was trying to climb up a hill to safety,
but the wave caught up with her and took the babies.
JAMES BAKER (of Anchorage)
Clayton James Baker moved to Anchorage with his
sister and brother-in-law (from Helena, Montana) in 1957. Mr.
Baker had polio as a child and was handicapped. He died in his home
on Marston Drive in Anchorage. He was survived by brothers Lane
and Wesley and sisters Vada Robinson and Mrs. Max Smith.
LEORA ELLEN (OLIVER) KNIGHT (of Anchorage)
(following written by Leora's daughter: Carol Knight Korman)
mother was born in Oberon, North Dakota, on 11/30/1907 to Maurice
Herbert Oliver and Ellen Maude Hulbert Oliver. She grew up in N.D. and
suffered from polio as a youngster. She graduated from U.N.D. in Grand
Forks in 1929, majoring in science. She married Virgil Eugene Knight
(1906-1978) who graduated from U.N.D. with a degree in mechanical engineering
that same year. They found jobs in Chicago - Dad with Western Electric
and Mother teaching. In 1929, the financial crash occurred and as
new employees, they both lost their jobs. Later that year they both got
jobs with the B.I.A. as teachers at an industrial school at White Mountain,
Alaska. They traveled by ship, The North Star, to Nome, Alaska. They were
the only non-Native people in the village and split the teaching duties
between themselves, along with acting as the village dentist, nurse,
counselor, etc. In 1940, Dad had a position with the Civil Aeronautics
Authority (CAA) and Mom taught all the science classes at Anchorage High
School. In 1956 or 1957, the Knights moved into a lovely new home in the
Turnagain area. They were there on Good Friday, March 27, 1964 when the
Great Alaska Earthquake hit the Anchorage area. From my Dad's story
of events, they were in the house and began to grab lamps and loose objects
as the shaking started. When they realized it was a major earthquake, they
ran out the front door and down the asphalt driveway toward the street.
At some point, a large crack opened in the driveway and Mom, who was running
ahead of Dad, fell in. Dad fell in behind her, but higher up the back side
of the hole. The frozen earth continued to move and grind and the crack closed
up, crushing Mother across the chest and severing one of Dad's legs. Mother
was mortally wounded and may have died at the scene, but there is a story
that she died in the ambulance staffed by the volunteer fire department
personnel. My husbands brother, Robert Korman, was one of those volunteers
and thinks she may have recognized him before she died. Both parents were
initially found by National Guard personnel flying in a helicopter over
this heavily damaged area of the city. Dad was transported to the new
Providence Hospital where he was treated for his traumatic injuries. His
own doctor, whom he had known for 20+ years did not recognize him. A National
Guardsman had found Dad's glasses at the scene and tucked them into his
shirt and he was later identified by his name engraved on the stem. Their
home was totally destroyed and very little was ever salvaged from it. The
land slid into Cook Inlet and nothing was ever built in that area again,
though it took until 2007 to finally settle the legal claims. Dad underwent
several surgeries to save his left leg and to prepare his amputated right
leg for a future prosthesis. Virgil Eugene Knight passed away in 1978.
He and Leora are buried side by side at the Angelus Cemetery in Anchorage.
WILLIAM "Bill" JONES
I saw the Sunrise roll. It was a large steel boat
that belonged to Bobby [Bill] Jones. He was on the back of the Sunrise
and Olie Harder was taking that thing and heading out the channel
when she rolled. When she popped back up, Bobby [Billy] was no more to be
seen and we did not find his body. (part of an interview with Chuck
Mackey by Stephen Mackey 1995).
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