John Samuelson Obituary
John Bennett Samuelson, a 45-year Girdwood resident, passed away peacefully on November 23, 2018 at the age of 75 due to leukemia. He was born in Culver City, California on October 30, 1943 to Donald and Huldah and had lived in Alaska since the age of 1.
He had a passion for outdoor activities. This included mountaineering, biking, pack-rafting, back-country skiing, hiking, sea kayaking, and wilderness ice-skating. He was a helping hand to his many friends, always willing to lend his considerable skills to solve plumbing and electrical problems.
As a community volunteer, he helped construct the kiosk for the Girdwood 5K Nordic Trail, where a plaque has been placed in his honor.
Growing up in Anchorage, he graduated from East High School in its first graduating class. He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Biology.
An Army veteran, he was wounded in Viet Nam and was awarded a bronze star, purple heart and an air medal. After leaving the Army, he moved to Girdwood in the early 1970’s.
He worked as a ski patrolman at Alyeska Resort and self-built his own 4-story house. He worked for many years for PacWest, a millwork shop, as a finish carpenter and cabinet maker. A talented craftsman, he designed and built many unique and artistic elements in his home. He also constructed one-of-a-kind furniture pieces, a rowing scull, and harpsichord.
John’s mountaineering achievements included a successful ascent of Denali with a gang of fellow ski patrollers, plus first ascents of Montana Peak and Ice Cream Cone Peak. John was the sole survivor of an avalanche that killed his two companions during their attempt on Eklutna Traverse.
He was an early pack-rafting enthusiast, soloing the Winner Creek to Twenty-mile River route. A bold ice skater, he was known to take plunges through the ice, sometimes up to his neck, and then calmly climb out and skate for miles back to his car despite sub-zero temperatures and stiff head winds. He spent hundreds of days telemark skiing on Turnagain Pass. In his 70’s, he rafted down the Grand Canyon.
He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Susan. John is survived by his sisters Michele of Cranbrook, British Columbia and Jane of Anchorage.
The family would like to thank the staff of the Providence Extended Care Facility who provided kind and attentive care to John in his final year. A celebration of life will be announced at a later date.