End of Trail - May 2012

Joyce Little

Stellar Strength

Longtime Eagle River resident Joyce Little, 68, died Jan. 29, after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Little was born in 1943 in Fort Pierce, Fla., to Lewis and Betty Jacobs. She was a longtime employee of the Alaska Star newspaper and loved gardening in her spare time.

“More than 30 years of tenacious battle with cancer exhausted the incredible strength she possessed. As in all things, she never lost her poise while passing quietly in the arms of her family. Joyce is most remembered for her sense of style. While she never missed an opportunity to catch the latest fashion trends, she was also busy setting her own.

“Her true loves in life were her grandchildren. She enjoyed cultivating in them a sense of fashion, as well as desire to see every corner of the world. Joyce never missed any of her grandchildren’s activities or performances, taking special joy in their stage antics,” her family wrote.


“Her work as a nurse at Providence Hospital gave her deep compassion for those who suffered, also giving her an uncanny strength to overcome the enormous odds of two battles with Stage 4 breast cancer as well as an earlier battle with uterine cancer. “She found deep gratification in working closer to her home and her children in the advertising department at the Alaska Star newspaper. This position gave her pride in bringing her community closer together and allowed her to help steer her community by participating in the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce. Her retirement brought the joys of spending weekends at her cabin with her family and the realization of many of her travel dreams.”

She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Laura and Russell Simkins, and daughter, Julie Wilson; sister, Mary Louise Beaver; grandchildren, Trevor Hodge, Savanna Simkins, Jaime Simkins and Rosanna Simkins; and cousins, Lewis and Ginger White.

Donations can be made in her name to the American Cancer Society. A wake and potluck were at her daughter’s home Feb. 8. A funeral mass was Feb. 9 at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Eagle River.

Helen Ertwine, 98, died Aug. 8. Ertwine and her husband, Hank Vezina, owned and operated Vezina Furniture in Mountain View, selling his handmade furniture. After Vezina’s death, Ertwine married Bud Ertwine and they spent winters in Arizona and summers in Alaska. They were both active members of Pioneers of Alaska and the Anchorage Senior Center. She loved card games.

Albert Berdan Cottle, 76, died Oct. 23. In 1955 Cottle was assigned to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Storis in Juneau. Cottle worked as a butcher at Erwin’s Meat Market before beginning a 20-year career for the State of Alaska as a building maintenance manager in Fairbanks, Kodiak and Ketchikan. After retirement, he and his wife, Luanne, returned to Kodiak, where he worked as a maintenance man for Basil Trataros, a contractor for maintenance for the U.S. Coast Guard.

Doris Jeanette Dearborn, 95, died July 20. Dearborn loved sharing her knowledge of horticulture, cultivating vegetables, flowers, berries and apples. Dearborn sold produce from her porch to hundreds in the Matanuska Valley and Anchorage areas. She conducted apple orchard tours, primarily for elementary schoolchildren. Dearborn received a signed plaque from the Twenty-Third State Legislature and was selected as the figure of the woman pioneer for the wall mural at Palmer High School. She served as president of the Palmer PTA, mothered a Cub Scout den and was active in the local 4-H. She played violin with the Palmer Orchestra and was actively involved, tending gardening booths and flower displays, at the Alaska State Fair.



Paul “Koublou” Charles Johnson, 54, died Oct. 14. Johnson spent his early years in Saint Michael, later moving to Unalakleet where he attended Unalakleet Day School. He graduated from Covenant High School. After high school he attended LaTournaeau University and the University of Alaska. Johnson ran the Unalakleet Native Corp., built boats, guided big-game hunts, dog mushed in the Iditarod, commercial fished and crab fished. He was a devoted family man and took special care of this mother, Ruth, after his father died.



Bruce Babcock, 83, died Jan. 14. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Babcock homesteaded in Big Lake. After the Millers Reach forest fire destroyed his home in 1996, he rebuilt the homestead and lived the rest of his life there. He was employed by the U.S. Civil Service from 1955 until his retirement in 1985 as a supervisor of a jet engine and reciprocating engine shop at Elmendorf Air Force Base. He was actively involved with the Mid-Valley Center, Mat-Su Coalition of Seniors, Big Lake Homesteaders Association, Houston Fire Department, and National Active and Retired Federal Employees. 

Notices are limited, because of space, to names of those who have achieved pioneer status through many years in the North, or who have made significant contributions to the state. Submissions for End of the Trail may be sent to eot@alaskamagazine.com.

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