The information on this page
was sent to me by the family members of
those that lost their lives in the 1964 Alaska Earthquake.
I have assured them that these stories would never be used commercially,
so please respect that. Do not repost or republish the following in ANY FORM
without my written permission.
would like to include the story of your loved
one, please contact me.
In Loving Memory
Earl Stuart, his wife Sammie Marie
Stuart and the couples three children were all lost when the
Valdez dock collapsed during the tsunami. 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
[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 "Sut" LARSEN
My Uncle John "Sut" 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 good-byes to his mother by "talking in the blind" on short-wave
radio frequency 2450.
Written by John Watson,
nephew of John "Sut" Larsen
JULIA KOMPKOFF (age 9)
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 drowned].
Written by Carol Ann Kompkoff of
JOHN "Sut" LARSEN (of
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 namesake of his boat). The other bodies were never found.
Correct spelling of Harry Nielsen provided by his niece:
Delice Alexander Colcote
CHIEF SIMMIE ALEXANDROFF
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 their 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 up with 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 his 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 join the other villagers.
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
(age 8) (of Washington)
ROBERT McKenzie (age 7)
RICHARD McKenzie (age 6) (of
TAMARA McKENZIE (age 3)
Monte and Rita Kay McKenzie (both age 29) 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 young family was still trying
to recover from losing their oldest child (Susanne age 9) earlier that year.
After a day playing at the campground, the family made a makeshift driftwood
shelter to sleep in. Totally unaware of the approaching tsunami, the first
wave woke them up. As they exited the shelter, they were being
tumbled with logs, rocks and debris. As soon as the wave receded, the
family gathered together and Rita held the hands of the two youngest children.
When the next wave hit, it knocked Rita unconscious and pulled all four
children (and the family dog) out to sea where they drowned (Louis 8,
Bobby 7, Ricky 6, Tammi 3). Rescue deputies found Rita unconscious
and Monte in shock; both were taken to the hospital. Search parties looked
for the McKenzie children for 3 days, but only Ricky's body was found.
Mrs. McKenzie was treated for a concussion and serious cuts and abrasions.
The McKenzie's had lost all five children within 8 months, how tragic.
In an attempt to heal; they filed papers to adopt 4 children, but the
stress of the entire year ended their marriage before that happened.
UPDATE: Mrs. Rita Kay McKenzie (Jepson)
died, 3/1/2014, just weeks shy of the 50th anniversary of the
loss of her 5 children. The Support Officer of Whatcom County,
Washington contacted me to find out where the McKenzie children were
buried and arranged for Rita Kay's ashes to be buried there
Rest in Peace McKenzie family.
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
WILLIAM 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
JACK VAN 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 STYER (of Anchorage)
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 school.
submitted by Suzanne Cook Taylor
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
ARLENE 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 Mona Anderson
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 and drowned.
LEWIS MICHELSON (age 35) (of Whittier)
THERESA MICHELSON (age 6)
RANDY MICHELSON (age 5)
KEITH MICHELSON (age 2)
MICKI BARNES (age
5) (of Whittier)
RICKI BARNES (age
4) (of Whittier)
VICKI BARNES (age
6) (of Whittier)
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 never found.
Written by Margaret Basta Montana
MICHELSON FAMILY and BARNES FAMILY
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
Submitted by Dick Osburn
RICHARD 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
FRANK OSCAR REED (Cape St. Elias Light Station)
Frank Oscar Reed was a Coast Guardsman
at the Cape St. Elias Light Station on the southwestern
tip of Kayak Island. During the earthquake, his leg
was broken by a falling rock. Three of his fellow Guardsman were
trying to rescue him, when a tsumani wave hit. The fellow Guardsman were
able to save themselves, but Reed was washed out to sea and drowned. His
body was washed ashore days later. Reed was scheduled to be discharged from
military service in April of 1964. He is buried in Ohio.
JESSE LEE 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
JESSE LEE HATCH (of Seward)
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
JULIA KOMPKOFF (age
9) (of Chenega)
NORMA JEAN KOMPKOFF (age 3) (of Chenega)
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.
CLARENCE 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 Bledsoe Wischnowsky
GERALD 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
PAUL GREGORIEFF (of Valdez)
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)
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
SAMMY PETTIKOFF (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
PAUL GREGORIEFF (of Valdez)
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
DUANNE 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,
Submitted by Karen Welborn
DONALD 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 Mueller
PERRY MEAD Jr. (age
12) (of Anchorage)
MERELL MEAD (age 2)
Mead, a neurosurgeon in Anchorage, and his wife Wanda (Merrell) Mead, a teacher,
lived on Chilligan Drive in a well-to-do Turnagain neighborhood in Anchorage.
At 5:36 PM on 3/27/1964, Dr. Mead was working at the hospital; his wife Wanda
was out running an errand and the Mead's oldest daughter Pam was visiting
a friend about a block from the Mead home. The Mead's other 4 children,
(Perry 12, Penny 8, Paul 4 and Merrell 2) were home alone when the earthquake
started. Penny (nicknamed "Mossy") ran out of the house first and stood
by the family car. She watched as her brother Perry came out of the house,
hanging onto his two little brothers. When he saw the jumble of broken houses,
cars, sunken driveways and uprooted trees all sliding towards nearby Cook
Inlet, he panicked and took off running, only to fall into a hole in
the ground; the earth closed in around him and he was never seen again. Penny
picked up her brother Paul and sat him on the family car. When she turned
around to get 2 year old Merrell, he was gone too; a crack in the earth had
swollowed the toddler and then closed back up; he was never found. Seventy
five houses in that wealthy Turnagain subdivision (that the Mead's lived in)
An interview with Penny Mead, by Julia O'Malley -
Anchorage Daily News reporter 3/22/2014
STERLING 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
DAVID LEE GROWDEN (age 4) (of Valdez)
JAMES GROWDEN Jr. (
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 Deanna Dieringer)
DAN BODDY (of Fairbanks)
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 earthquake.
Submitted by daughter, Nancy
DAN BODDY (of Fairbanks)
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.
from the Fairbanks Daily News Miner 3/31/1964
BOB 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.
ROBERT 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
Publication done by NOAA about the earthquake, says that
"Lou" was really Louise Ellanna (maiden name Oukuk) Simmons.
ALBERT 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 White.
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.
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
FAMILY (of Whittier)
DAVID BARNES FAMILY (of Whittier)
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
(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 died.
WILLY EVANOFF (of Chenega)
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 Kompkoff ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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
Sergeant 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 McClure Andersen
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
WILLIAM CLAWSON (of
AGATHA CLAWSON (of
JUANITA EDWARDS (of
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.
JUANITA 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,
JOAN FIELDS (of California)
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.
Joans half sister Patty.
Joan 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.)
WILLIAM WRIGHT (age 1)
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 waves.
LAVELLA 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.
DONALD 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 hit.
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
Information from: Colleen Joy Hickman
DON O'LEARY (of Fairbanks)
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. Walter Jewell.
Information from the Fairbanks Daily News Miner 3/31/1964
THOMAS SELANOFF (infant twin)
ROBERT SELANOFF (infant twin)
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.
CLAYTON JAMES BAKER (of
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
My 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
Written by Carol Knight Korman (daughter of Leora Oliver Knight)
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
AND EDDIE ANDERSON (of Kodiak)
Coleen writes: This first entry is a mystery. 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 are both on every 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: Coleen
ANDERSON (of Kodiak)
Mary Anderson was was
last seen, just before the earthquake, 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 a 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 last seen with Mary. If you can add to Mary Anderson's story, please
contact me: Coleen).
Please feel free to contact
me if you would like to add or change
The above information is privately
owned and protected by copyright.
Please do not re-print or republish
it in any form
my written permission.
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