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1964  Alaska Earthquake Fatalities

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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.

If you would like to include the story of your loved one, please contact me.

In Loving  Memory


Rest In Peace



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


[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


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)    (of Chenega)
(age 3)(of Chenega)

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 Chenega
JOHN "Sut" LARSEN (of Afognak)
HARRY NIELSEN  (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.
Information  courtesy of

Correct spelling of Harry Nielsen provided by his niece: Delice Alexander Colcote

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 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   (age 8) (of Washington)
ROBERT McKenzie  
(age 7)  (of Washington)
(age 6)  (of Washington
(age 3)  (of Washington)

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 with them.
 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


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 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.
Information submitted by Suzanne Cook Taylor

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

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



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.


(age 35)  (of Whittier)
(age 6)   (of Whittier)
(age 5)   (of Whittier)
(age 2)   (of Whittier)
DAVID BARNES               (of Whittier)
(age 5)   (of Whittier)
(age 4)   (of Whittier)
(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

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


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

NOAA Publication 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 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)
(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.

Submitted by Avis Kompkoff

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

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


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


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


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)
(age 2)    (of Anchorage)

Dr. Perry 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) were destroyed.

Information source:
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 Drew


LESTER FINKE   (of Seward)

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)
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 Boddy
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.

Information 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.
Submitted by Bob Blakely

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.

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.

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. 


DAVID BARNES FAMILY    (of Whittier)
FRANCIS DAMON          (of Whittier)
(age 16)    (of Whittier)
LEONARD DAY            (of Whittier)
ALBERTA DAY            (of Whittier)
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 family next)
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)
(age 3) (of Chenega)

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

WILLIE EVANOFF             (of Chenega)
SALLY EVANOFF              (of Chenega)
JOANNE KOMPKOFF (age 3)     (of Chenega)
RICHARD KOMPKOFF           (of Chenega)
ANNA VLASOFF               (of Chenega)
STEVE ELESHANSKY           (of Chenega)
RHONDA ELESHANSKY (age 1)   (of Chenega)

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 ridge.

DONALD McCLURE   (of California)

Technical 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


DONALD McCLURE   (of California)

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

WILLIAM CLAWSON       (of California)
AGATHA CLAWSON        (of California)
EARL EDWARDS          (of California)
JUANITA EDWARDS       (of California)
JOAN FIELDS           (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.
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, Oregon
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.

Submitted by Joans half sister Patty.

(Note: 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)   (of California)
(age 2)   (of California)

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)
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 was lost.  

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)   (of Chenega)
(infant twin)   (of Chenega)

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 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.

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 in Anchorage.

Written by Carol Knight Korman (daughter of Leora Oliver Knight)


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


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


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).



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