I was born in Ft. Pierce, Florida, moved to Alaska in 1953, graduated from Anchorage High School and earned a Bachelor's degree in Political Science with a Minor in Philosophy at the University of San Francisco. I played alto saxophone in the Anchorage High School band, as well as ice hockey through high school and as a freshman at the University of Alaska Fairbanks before moving on to USF. Incidentally, I completed the seventeen credits I needed to graduate from USF in the Spring of 2011, 48 years late and earning a 4.0 gpa for the semester!
I have been a member of the Anchorage City Council and Anchorage Borough Assembly before unification, twice a board member of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, State of Alaska, and twice its Chairman. I have been on many boards, including Boys and Girls Clubs of Alaska, Anchorage Opera, Anchorage Repertory Theatre, Anchorage Mental Health Association and Boys Scouts of America, Western Alaska Council. I am an active Rotarian and past president of Anchorage Downtown Rotary.
My interests are climbing, running, skiing, scuba diving, reading, writing, traveling and opera. I have climbed six of the seven highest mountains on each of the continents and made three attempts on the seventh, Mt. Everest, reaching 27,500 ft. at age 50. I have also run fifteen marathons, including the original run from Marathon to Athens.
I have a son, Michael, a daughter, Michele, and seven grandchildren by my first wife. My present wife and I will celebrate our 26th anniversary in September 2012.
In the early 1980s, when money was no problem and anything was possible, I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse by none other than Mafia Mike, thus becoming the custodian of an important historical icon.
Had I known at the time what a maintenance nightmare it would become, I’m not sure I would have been willing to accept the responsibility, regardless of the possibilities—or consequences.
Looking out the living room window of our duplex on Iliamna Drive I couldn’t have missed Ruby on her hands and knees furiously yanking from the flower bed my newly transplanted flowers.
We were new to Alaska, having lived our first year on Government Hill and new to the neighborhood, Susitna View Park, just west of Turnagain-By-the-Sea subdivision, where Mel and Ruby lived. Their son, Norman, and I had become friends. The year was 1954.
Although Fairbanks had the Malemute Saloon, Juneau had the Red Dog Saloon and even little Homer had the Salty Dawg Saloon, Anchorage had no bar with an authentic Alaskan theme.
In 1967, some high school friends and I bought the Bird House Bar, a funky Alaskan themed bar on the Seward Highway.
The most exciting thing I ever did was mountain climbing. A forty-six year old Spenard bar owner that had smoked for fifteen years and never climbed anything but a bar stool was not exactly a prime candidate for challenging some of the world’s most famous peaks.
But in 1993, at age fifty, I had managed to summit the highest peak on six of the seven continents.
We were sitting at anchor in a small cove on the coast of Kalgan Island waiting for the storm to break and listening to the radio. Somehow, Terry had managed to get a hold of one of the Dobenspeck Cannery secret maps.
We were independent fishermen, meaning that we were beholding to no cannery, could sell to whomever we pleased, but as a consequence, not entitled to one of those maps.
Old-timers can remember when the peanuts were free at Chilkoot Charlie’s. Right about that time, some oil companies paid the state of Alaska $900 million for leases on the North Slope and the rush was on.
But, as the establishment’s notoriety spread and business grew, it also become a world class hangout for mice.