The Seward Mariners' Memorial Project
Seward resident Nina Daley latched onto the idea of a Seward Mariners’ Memorial in 2002 while serving as Vice-Commodore of the Kenai Fjords Yacht Club (KFYC). The club had not had an inspiring community project to work on since 1992 when KFYC designed and installed the first escape ladders on the harbor’s floating docks.
Over the years, a few memorial plaques were mounted on harbor-area railings and the harbor plaza, but a special spot to commemorate lives lost at sea was lacking. A dedicated mariners’ memorial would serve the dual purpose of housing memorial plaques as well as a dedicated location in which to host the annual Blessing of the Fleet and other ceremonies.
Active members of KFYC discussed potential locations and solicited ideas for the memorial’s theme. An early site plan called for a deck extending from the boardwalk above E and F floats displaying a bronze ship’s bell. The site was favored at the time as a convenient central location with ADA accessibility and a good view of the harbor. With full support of then Harbormaster Jim Beckham, KFYC Commodore Daley brought the proposal before the Seward City Council in June 2003 requesting commitment of the location, but was declined.
KFYC continued to seek additional community input and support, holding meetings and soliciting design ideas, including a presentation to the Seward Rotary Club. While in Homer that winter, Nina contacted an individual who had been active in the establishment and maintenance of that port town’s spectacular Seafarer’s Memorial and brought that information back to KFYC.
In March 2004, KFYC deposited $1,000 in First National Bank in a Seward Mariners’ Memorial Fund account under the umbrella non-profit 2003 Seward Centennial organization. The fund was designed to show the community that KFYC was serious in its intent and to provide a secure, clearly restricted fund for future donations to the project.
Nina drafted resolutions of support for the Seward Port and Commerce Advisory Board, the Historic Preservation Commission, and the Planning and Zoning Commission. New Harbormaster Scott Ransom became a steadfast supporter of the project. All resolutions were eventually passed. Letters of support were obtained from then Borough Assemblyman Ron Long, Seward Rotary Club, Seward Economic Development Council, Seward Chamber of Commerce, Alaska Sea Life Center, Harbor Business Association, and respected fishermen and business leaders.
Following Nina’s move to Homer in October 2004, Sue Kaanta was elected KFYC Commodore in March 2005 and became the Mariners’ Memorial chief proponent. Design ideas continued to surface and evolve, always incorporating the ship’s bell that could be rung for ceremonies.
Meanwhile, the City of Seward passed a harbor expansion plan that included a new section of upland fill along the south end of the harbor, offering another excellent potential site for a memorial. KFYC immediately set about soliciting support for a memorial park at the southeast end of the new uplands overlooking Resurrection Bay.
A Seward Mariners’ Memorial committee was officially formed in 2008 with Nancy Erickson as president, Ron Long vice president and Sue Kaanta secretary/treasurer.
Following completion of the south harbor uplands, the City of Seward dedicated a 100’X100’ site for the memorial. Anchorage engineering firm Tryck Nyman Hayes included the memorial site in a conceptual plan for the new harbor uplands.
Resolutions of support can be seen on the City of Seward Web site under Legislative History:
PACAB Resolution 2004-07, Sept. 1, 2004