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Recognizing Donors on New Wave Wall

posted Nov 13, 2015, 11:12 AM by Eric Bilyou

Dot Bardarson proudly points to the donor plaque mounted on the end of the graceful Wave Wall recently constructed as part of the Seward Mariners’ Memorial.  Holland America viewed this project worthy of substantial support.  The wall serves as a wind break as well as a decorative part of the memorial complex, the focus being the lighthouse overlooking Resurrection Bay.  It is an important addition to Seward's character and is located on the breakwater to honor our fallen seaman and Seward’s maritime history. Landscaping this spring will complete the construction phase of the project.

Wave Wall & Benches Enhance Memorial Site

posted Nov 13, 2015, 11:04 AM by Eric Bilyou   [ updated Nov 13, 2015, 11:09 AM ]

Didn’t know the location of Seward’s mariners’ memorial? That issue was solved in October 2014 with installation of a 35-foot marine-grade aluminum wave wall proudly announcing “Seward Mariners’ Memorial” from its location on the south harbor uplands.

Four cleat benches manufactured by Port Townsend Foundry were also set in place in memory of Captains Jack Johnson, Mark Walker, Chris Sorenson and Donald and Richard Oldow. Walker and Sorenson’s benches sit side-by-side, commemorating their lifetime of close friendship.

 The wave wall was created by Rich Pakker and his wife Pamela Pakker-Kozicki of RP Art in Seattle. This wasn’t just another piece of artwork to Pakker.

“By all right, I could be one of the names on Seward Mariners’ Memorial because I went down twice in boats fishing out of Seward and Dutch Harbor,” stated Pakker. “My connection to these waters and the people on them goes deep,” he added.

Pakker was born in Essen, Germany where he began learning metal working skills. He headed out across the Atlantic as a young man working various jobs and eventually caught a ride on the boat Glacier Castle from Seattle to Seward in 1973. From there he ended up fishing halibut and salmon in Chignik and experienced his first shipwreck fishing out of Dutch Harbor. As fate would have it, once wasn’t enough. Pakker was involved in a second shipwreck in 1975 while scallop fishing when the F/V Owen Gandi caught fire off Yakutat.

It was in that same year that Pakker began creating his art by carving walrus ivory into intricate bottles, tiny chests and jewelry while living in Shishmaref. His work evolved from tall pitchers and urns to bigger sculptures. His first major piece, Neb

ula Torcida, was installed in 1999 in Microsoft’s Cedar Court campus in Redmond, Wash.

Pakker’s design for Seward’s wave wall came from ideas put forth from the SMM committee. “I took the idea and expanded on it to create the three-dimensional modeling,” said Pakker, who did the design and fabrication of the wall in collaboration with his wife Pamela and her computer modeling skills.

Pakker considers the challenges of working with large pieces of metal all in a day’s work. “How to manipulate the large pieces of metal, how to fit everything up perfectly so that it will work when it’s installed, how to get the finished sculpture out of my studio and into the shipping container, how to devise mounting the letters and waves so they are easy to install on the site, etc. etc.,” he explained. “All these things are fun for me. It’s why I am a sculptor!”

The wave wall and benches are part of the final construction phase of the three tiered project that began in 2011 with construction of a lighthouse replica on property donated by the City of Seward. Phase II followed with installation of a 75-foot compass rose in 2013. Both were projects of Harmon Construction. Landscaping and gardens will be the final segment of Phase Three. The SMM committee is working with award-winning garden designer Brenda Adams of Gardens By Design in Homer.

Kudos go out to Samson Tug & Barge for transporting the wave wall and benches from Seattle to Seward and delivering them to the construction site. The memorial project has been made possible by generous grants from the Estate of Sue Kaanta, Rasmuson Foundation, Seward Community Foundation, Kenai Mountains Turnigan Arm National Heritage Site and Holland America Line. Donor plaques are mounted on each end of the wave wall, listing project donors and contributors.

Originally Published October 2014
by Nancy Erickson

2014 Blessing of the Fleet & Memorial Plaque Dedication.

posted Feb 5, 2015, 6:51 PM by Eric Bilyou   [ updated Feb 5, 2015, 7:08 PM ]

The Seward Mariners’ Memorial committee helped kick off Harbor Opening activities with the annual memorial plaque dedication followed by the Blessing of the Fleet May 17. Father Tero led the group gathered at the memorial site with thoughts and prayers to loved ones of those memorialized on plaques lining the inside walls of the lighthouse replica and for protection of those still on the water. Iris Johnson spoke of her recently departed husband Captain Jack Johnson, as did Rolf Bardarson for his late father Linne’ Bardarson. Musicians Randy Altermatt and Joe and Lona D’Entrone led a sing-a-long to the mariner favorite Fiddler’s Green. A quilt made and donated to the Mariners’ Memorial by the Seward Area Quilters was raffled off later that evening and won by local resident and fellow quilter Judy Christiansen.

Members of the Mariners’ Memorial committee are gearing up for a busy summer to complete the final construction phase of the project featuring installation of a wave wall, four cleat benches, a bench honoring the late Sue Kaanta and landscaping. These efforts are boosted with continuing support from the Seward Community Foundation, Holland America, Rasmuson Foundation and Kenai Mountain Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area Corridor Communities – and many private and corporate donors. However, approximately $20,000 is still needed to complete the project.

Iris Johnson shares a bit of her late husband’s maritime adventures with the crowd gathered for the annual memorial plaque dedication May 17. Captain Jack Johnson’s plaque recently joined others mounted on the lighthouse wall. 

Father Tero of Sacred Heart Catholic Church once again presided over the annual Seward Mariners’ Memorial plaque dedication and Blessing of the Fleet. 

A film crew documented the mariners’ ceremony for the Travel Channel. The group is in Seward to film how a small seaside town gears up for the boating season.

Article & Photos by Nancy Erickson

The Wave Wall is Coming! The Wave Wall is Coming!!

posted Sep 28, 2014, 12:04 PM by Eric Bilyou

That's right, the Wave Wall was shipped out on September 25th from the production facility in Seattle and will be installed the week of October 13th at the site.  Watch the video for a sneak peak!

Seward Mariner's Memorial Wave Wall

Judy Christiansen Wins Quilt Raffle!

posted Jun 18, 2014, 8:20 AM by Eric Bilyou

Judy Christiansen proudly displays the Seward Mariners’ Memorial quilt she won at a raffle drawing May 17 at Chinooks during the Harbor Opening dance. Donated by the Seward Area Quilters, the group invested more than 14 hours in their creation featuring the memorial lighthouse replica surrounded by Celtic knots. Even though many quilters were involved in the project, members Tammy Nicolas, Adam Bauer and Donna Glenz did the lion’s share of the work.

Members of the Mariners’ Memorial committee are gearing up for a busy summer to complete the final construction phase of the project featuring installation of a wave wall, four cleat benches, a bench honoring the late Sue Kaanta and landscaping. These efforts are boosted with continuing support from the Seward Community Foundation, Holland America, Rasmuson Foundation and Kenai Mountain Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area Corridor Communities – and many private and corporate donors. However, approximately $20,000 is still needed to complete the project.

Quilt raffle to benefit Seward Mariners’ Memorial

posted Feb 18, 2014, 1:06 PM by Eric Bilyou

What began as a mariners’ compass rose quilting class morphed itself into a full size quilt and then donated to the Seward Mariners’ Memorial for use as a fundraiser.

Skilled members of the Seward Area Quilters invested approximately 14 hours in their creation featuring the memorial lighthouse replica surrounded by Celtic knots. The border of the quilt is comprised of 14 marines’ compass rose blocks carefully sewn by 14 different quilters, each adding their unique touch.

Even though many quilters were involved in the project, members Tammy Nicolas, Adam Bauer and Donna Glenz did the lion’s share of the work, according to Sue Magyar, who has been with the group for many years.

Glenz and Nicolas hatched the original concept. Nicolas found a paper-piecing pattern for the compass rose, which is sewn on to paper. The paper is removed from the back of the blocks and used as the basic block pattern.  After teaching the class, Nicolas and Glenz thought what better way to display their new-found talent than a Mariners’ Memorial quilt to help fund completion of the project that currently consists of a lighthouse replica surrounded by a compass rose. The site is located on the south harbor uplands and overlooks Resurrection Bay.

Glenz magically sewed all the pieces together and Adam Bauer sewed the applique of the lighthouse and Celtic knots.

Compass rose blocks were sewn by Marsha Vincent, Jody Nelson, Deb Crosby, Tracy Squires, Sheila Squires, Kathy Shipe, Becky Buchanan, Tina Markiel, Susan Olson, Chris Houck, Joyce Simpson, Nicolas, Glenz and Magyar.

The Mariners’ quilt is one of 20-to-30 service quilts the group donates a year. The quilt made its debut at the Seward Polar Bear Jumpoff quilt show January 18. Tickets are $5 and remain on sale until the drawing May 17, 9 p.m. during the  Harbor Opening dance upstairs at Chinook’s. Seward Rotary is donating the use of their gaming permit.

Construction Begins on Compass Rose

posted Sep 5, 2013, 2:13 PM by Eric Bilyou

May was a busy and exciting month for the Seward Mariners’ Memorial Committee.

Harmon Construction crews have begun work on Phase 2 – the compass rose— thanks to receipt of two grants and some fantastic community fundraising efforts.

The Mariners’ Memorial was awarded a $5,000 grant from the Seward Community Foundation and $10,000 from the Kenai Mountain-Turnagain Arm Corridor Communities Association (KMTA-CCA).

The Seward Community Foundation is an affiliate of The Alaska Community Foundation, a statewide non-profit organization that manages charitable funds allowing donors to advance a cause, support an organization or provide flexible support for community needs. Ron Long and Nancy Erickson accepted the grant at a donor appreciation and grant announcement event May 9 at Seward Brewing Company.

KMTA-CCA manages federal grant funding to national heritage areas in recognition of their unique natural, cultural and historic resources. Seward is part of the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area that was established in 2009, the first in Alaska and one of 49 Heritage Areas across the nation.

Shelly Shank at the Breeze Inn did a terrific job in organizing, promoting and manning a silent auction, bake sale, split the pot event May 18 during Harbor Opening. Liz Leech recruited a few musicians to entertain the crowd, resulting in more than $2,400 in donations. All proceeds from admission to the dance that evening at Chinooks was also directed to the Memorial project. Kenai Fjords Yacht Club again donated proceeds from their swap meet.

Pastor Ron Nitz and Rev. Richard Tero affiliated at the annual memorial plaque dedication ceremony May 18 at the SMM site, followed by the annual Blessing of the Fleet. Mark Chase led the group braving chilly winds in the seafaring tune, “Fiddler’s Green.” A ship’s bell donated by Carrie McCann was used during the dedication and rung as the names on each plaque were read.

During a recent visit to the memorial, it was noticed one of the plaques had a distinct lipstick imprint next to the name. It is for people like that anonymous kisser for whom the memorial provides a place of refuge. The Mariners’ Memorial – yours and mine – is for the many people still on shore as well as those who never returned.

For information on how to purchase a memorial plaque or make a donation, go to our Web site

Gift To Seward’s Maritime Community

posted Jun 11, 2012, 3:48 PM by Eric Bilyou

Reprinted with Permission By Heidi Zemach
Seward community and family members of nine deceased mariners stood together near the new gray and white lighthouse-shaped structure on the small boat harbor spit Sunday May 20th 2012 for the dedication of the new Seward Mariners’ Memorial. They stood shivering as a brisk wind whipped up the waves in Resurrection Bay just beyond. They bowed their heads in prayer, sang Fiddler’s Green, a lively fishing shanty, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save,” the Navy Hymn to sailors lost at sea, and Amazing Grace. As the ceremony progressed, a few gulls and an eagle passed overhead, a fishing vessel headed out into the choppy waters beyond the breakwater, and a cruise ship the size of a city block overlooked the scene from its dock beyond.

Local pastors Ron Nitz and Paul Caseman read some scripture, Deb Altermatt, of the Seward the Mariner’s Memorial Committee, shared a poetic parable she found particularly meaningful for the occasion. Family and friends wiped their eyes, as a ships bell was rung along with the names of each of the departed mariners. The most poignant part of the dedication ceremony however, was when the wives or friends shared a few words about the eight special men and one amazing woman whose lives are now memorialized on bronze plaques.

Clyde David Jackson, a deckhand on the MV Pacific, lost his life in April, 1971, at age 19, while saving the life of another crew member during a raging storm in Shelikoff Strait, said Corky Lambert, of Oregon who visited Seward for the dedication. He witnessed the disaster more than 40 years ago from aboard its sister ship, the MV Chilkoot, which pulled up alongside to help the crew try to bail it out. He well remembers watching as young Jackson disobeyed the captain’s orders to abandon the sinking vessel, and instead tried to aid a fellow crew member, saving him, but losing his own life when his hand became trapped in the hatch of the sinking vessel. Lambert also remembers the captain of the vessel who bravely leaped from the upper deck above to try and save young Jackson. Sadly, he could not do so. “You can be truly proud,” he told the family. “We honor you today for the exceptional son and brother whose family undoubtedly played a great role in his values.”
Lambert also remembered Captain James Halliger, of Seward, who had skippered the Chilkoot alongside him when the Pacific Sank, and gave the order to cut the lines to save his own vessel. Halliger lost his own life at sea two years later when the MV Growler, similarly burdened with heavy construction materials, became overcome in a fierce storm, and sank near Whales, Alaska, along with all of its crew. “We have seen humanity at it’s best,” he said.
“Besides being my friend and husband for 20 years, he was quite a guy, and he would have absolutely loved this event, and have been part of it,” said Clement Locke McCann’s widow, Carrie. Most notably, her husband Clement started the Marine Maritime program at AVTEC many years ago, and was responsible for the hundreds and hundreds of people from across Alaska, even the remote of Native Alaska villages becoming licensed sea mariners, she said. “ I love that his name is on the wall.”
“I just want to say that “DJ” (Donald Whitman) just loved Seward, and he’s out fishing,” said Teresa Whitman, of her husband, a Navy veteran, who loved to fish for recreation on Resurrection Bay. He died just two and a half years ago, and her grief is obviously still quite fresh.
Gerald R. Bancroft taught generations of people the art of sailing, and loved to ply the waters around Seward, said his wife, Terri Bancroft. They purchased three boats together, all of which are still proud to call Seward their home port, she said. John Kumin, (formerly of Kumin Associates Inc,) also loved being out on the open ocean, watching the wind on the sails, said his wife Linda, of Anchorage. They launched their first boat here in 1981, and he sailed up to the time of his death.
Donald “DJ Whitman, a Navy man, loved to fish these waters for sport. Her husband passed on just two and a half years ago, so the grief is still quite fresh for wife, Teresa.
Geoff Feiler’s friend Phil Kaluza knew him for 30 years, and will miss him.
Finally, there was a plaque for Sue Kaanta, the woman who dreamed up the mariners’ memorial project 15 years ago, along with her friend Nina Daley, and has always been involved with the project. Many said she was surely there at the memorial dedication, at least in spirit. “I want to thank every single one of you for helping, and to let you know that Sue is with us today, and is very, very happy to see what has become of all of this,” said Tye Long.
The memorial is still a work in progress, with a widows-walk, benches and landscaping plus a statue of a woman looking out to sea on the upper floor of the lighthouse planned for once additional funds can be raised. But for now it has a handsome paint job, an elegant wooden interior, and nine bronze commemorative plaques, honoring those who have contributed so much to this growing maritime community. (Major Marine Tours has donated a special cruise to benefit the project on July 3rd. Tickets are still available locally for that event.)


Memorial Plaques Now Available!

posted Feb 23, 2012, 2:59 PM by Eric Bilyou   [ updated Feb 23, 2012, 3:00 PM ]

Remember Your Loved Ones With A Commemorative Plaque.  Plaques will be placed on the inside walls of the lighthouse and other locations as needed.  Orders can be placed by dowloading the Plaque Form below and returning with your payment to the address provided.

Construction Progress

posted Oct 31, 2011, 2:30 PM by Eric Bilyou   [ updated Oct 31, 2011, 2:35 PM ]

Construction Progress

Construction began quickly on phase 1 of the Seward Mariners' Memorial, the Lighthouse structure.  This building will house the the memorial plaques mounted on the interior walls.

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