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 assured 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
If you would like to add a photograph
of your loved one, please let me know.
Three Afognak 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 two men were Harry
Nielson of Afognak and Theodore Panamarioff of the village of Ouzinkie.
The Skippers body was found 4/3/1964 at Cape Spruce, ironically the landmark
that his boat was named after. Information
courtesty of www.afognak.org
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 ran to the safety of a hill behind the
The first wave lifted village skiffs over the village and deposited them
into the lake. Not knowing that over the next few hours, three more tsunami
waves would completely obliterate their village, Chief Simmie Alexandroff,
Nick Zeedar, Victor Melovedoff and Max Shelikoff tried to secure the skiffs.
Once they reached the skiffs, they found they
had no control over them in the strong currents and the skiffs drifted across
the lake until they got close to the bank where they pulled Donald and Joyce
Wyatt, two young California geologists camping in the area, onto the skiff.
The next waves carried the 10 village houses and church out to sea and pushed
the skiffs (still in the lake) back up to the shore where Max Shelikoff and
Victor Melovedoff jumped out and Donald Wyatt picked up and literally threw
his wife onto the shoreline. It was dark when the next wave flipped
the big skiff holding Chief Simmie, Nick Zeedar and Donald Wyatt. The Chief
was last seen, by flashlight trying to hang on to the overturned skiff; his
body was never found; Nick's body was found on the beach under a broken house
roof section and Donald Wyatt's body was found floating in the lake
the next day.
Information is from National Research Council on the Alaska
Robert Harrison is my Great
Uncle. He was working as a longshoreman on the dock the morning
of the earthquake unloading the freighter Chena. The first elementary
school in rebuilt Valdez (New Town) was named Growden Harrison Elementary
School. James Growden was also on the dock. Submitted
by Mike Day
Monte and Rita Kay McKenzie
of Tacoma were camping on the beach with their 4 children at the
Beverly Beach State Park in Oregon. The family was still recovering
from the tragic death of their oldest child, nine 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 covered
them with water; 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, it
sucked all for children out to sea where they drowned(Louis 8, Bobby 7,
Ricky 6, Tammi 3 and the family dog). Search parties looked for the children
for 3 days, but only Ricky's body was found). Mrs. McKenzie was taken to
the hospital and was treated for serious cuts and abrasions. All five McKenzie
childred 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 marriage and their desire to adopt.
UPDATE: Mrs. Rita Kay McKenzie (Jepson) died
just weeks shy of the 50th anniversary of the loss of her 5 children. The
Support Officer of Whatcom County, Washington was able to find the cemetery
where the McKenzie children have gravestones and has arranged for Rita Kay's
ashes to be buried there with them (Mt. View Memorial Park in Lakewood, Washington).
Rest in Peace Rita and babies.
My father was William Jones. We
lived in Seward but he was on a fishing boat in Kodiak.
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 and husband of Janet Louise Clairmore Vanbuskirk.
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 and a member of the Faith CApostolichurch.
and photo 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, as well
as many others that were at the dock, was never found. Richard was
the husband of Sharon, and father of three children; Lynne, Richard II,
and Gregory, all survivors. (Lynne was killed 24 March 1978 - also on
Good Friday) Written by Greg Robinson, son
of Richard Robinson
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 and their children tried to get back to the
Naval Base but 12 year old sons, from each family: Richard Vosgien
and Maurice Curry, were swept away by a tsunami wave and drowned.
My brother, Lewis Michelson and his partner David
Barnes were living together with their 6 children and had 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 came. 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
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 f rom it because it was coming right at us.
The other saw mill Columbia Lumber Co., where most of the people
were lost, was located close to the end (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 young 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
Frank Reid was a Coast Guardsman on Cape
St. Elias on the southwestern tip of Kayak Island. During the
earthquake, his leg was broken by falling rock. During the process
of being evacuated, by three fellow Guardsmen, a 10' wave swept
all four men out to sea. The three men that were rescuing Reid managed
to swim to safety, Frank Reid did not.
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 foot 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 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
Nicholas Kompkoff Sr. and his nine year old daughter
were running from the Tsunami (Nicholas was carrying his two
younger daughters) when they were all hit by the wave. Nicholas
was thrown across a creek and lost grip on one of the little girls.
His youngest, Norma Jean age 3 as well as his 9 year old daughter
were swept away by the tsunami at Chenega. 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
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, as were many others, 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 and Paul Gregorieff were
Valdez longshoreman working on the freighter S. S. 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.
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 Pettikof 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 Muelle
Dr. Perry Mead, a neurosurgeon
in Anchorage, and his wife Wanda (maiden name Merrell) a teacher,
had five children and a large home in the Turnagain area, in
1964. Dr. Mead was at work and Wanda had gone to the store to get
Easter goods the afternoon of March 27th. When the earthquake struck,
four of the Mead children (Perry, Pamela, Penelope & Paul) ran
out of the house. Realizing that baby Merrell (age 2) was still inside,
Perry (age 12) ran back in to get him. Just as he did, the house slid
off the bluff into the ocean; the two children were never found.
The three remaining children were rescued (by ropes) from a large sinkhole
in their front yard. Submitted
by Dr. deShawn Merrell cousin to the Mead children and John Dillman
1964 Rescue group and family friend.
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 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 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 Hammers
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
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 Simmon's 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
NOTE: Publication done by NOAA about the earthquake, says that
"Lou" was really Louise Ellanna (maiden name Oukuk) Simmons.
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 aware 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.
"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, 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. Mrs. Ware was the only serious injury
from the tsunami or earthquake at Whittier".
(see corrected information about
the Ware family next)
UPDATE: 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. Submitted by Jerry and Judy Ware
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, 3½,
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 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Recovering from the first shocks of Friday's earthquake,
the entire population of Prince William Sound community of Chenega
began a race with death for high ground.
Dragging their older children and clutching babies under
their arms, the 75 people of Chenega struggled up the hill towards
high ground as an 80' tidal wave came crashing down on their village
only minutes after the earthquake.
Many of the residents of that fishing village never reached
the safety of that high ground. Two successive 80' tidal waves swarmed
over the people and carried 23 persons with them when it withdrew.
About 10 of the 23 were pre-school age children. Survivors
watched in helpless terror as they saw their friends and relatives
swept away. When the water subsided, nothing remained where the
village had once stood, not even debris remained.
The only building left standing was the school, sitting
90' above high tide on a hill behind the village. The waters struck
the school house but did not carry it away.
Miss Christine Madson, Chenega's school teacher, said she
was part way up the hill behind the school when the wave hit. "I
saw the waters going back out, carrying away the houses and buildings,"
she said, "the first wave caught almost all the people, but the second
wave carried many of them back in again. Babies were carried right out
of their mothers arms in the water" she said. Miss Madson told
how the survivors finally reached high ground and immediately set about
organizing and gathering supplies, "there was absolutely no sign of panic"
she said, "everyone who survived lost someone in just a matter of minutes
and all their homes were carried away, but what struck me most was that
they were so good in this terrible disaster".
The Motor Vessel Marpet, out of Cordova, was off Chenega
during the wave and afterward picked one woman out of the Bay with
a broken hip and several broken ribs. The Marpet stayed off shore all
night trying to radio the U.S. Coast Guard.
Several Chenega people who were out at sea in skiffs were
not swamped by the wave and came back into the village. Chenega
has now been reported to be extremely close to the center of the quake.
One estimate has placed the center only 8 miles from the island.
The survivors of Chenega were picked up by Jim Osborn of
Cordova Air Service on Saturday and taken off the island by vessels
Marpet and Shamrock.
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
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 “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 to 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.
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
(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,
Mrs. William Wright, who lived on Highway 101,
Crescent City, California lost her two children to tsunami waves.
Her 10 month old son William and her 3 year old daughter Bonita were
pulled from her arms by waves.
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.
I lost many dear friends in the earthquake. Donnie (Donald) O'Leary
was tying down a load (of frieght) 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
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.