Orville K. "Orvie" McWethy

Posted: Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Longtime Alaskan and Sterling area resident Orville K. "Orvie" McWethy died Thursday, Apr. 1, 2010 at his home near Sterling following a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 79.

A memorial service and celebration of life will be 2 p.m. Saturday, Apr. 10, at the VFW Post 10046, 134 Birch Ln, Soldotna. Refreshments will be served following the service. His wish was to have his cremated remains scattered over a favorite spot in his back yard, which will be done at a later date.

Mr. McWethy was born July 1, 1930, in Urbana, IL, the youngest of 3 siblings, to Orville and Bessie (Gilley) McWethy. He joined the Navy after high school and was stationed aboard the USS Soley, a destroyer that departed on a world-wide cruise in 1952. Upon arrival in the Far East she operated along the coast of North Korea during the war against communist aggression. He was honorably discharged from the Navy and worked several years in the airline industry before joining the Coast Guard and going to Naples, Italy for five years, where he flew as crew member on C123's throughout Europe and North Africa servicing LORAN stations. He then transferred to San Francisco USCG air station, and then in 1971 to Kodiak, AK, serving as flight engineer and load master on the COO Hercules. After retiring in Kodiak in 1975, he moved to the Soldotna area and went to work on the Alaska pipeline as a sheet metal journeyman and continued working on construction jobs throughout the state until 1992.

He married his wife of 45 years, Gail Henlin, in Basel, Switzerland, when they were both stationed in Naples. They had a son, Patrick, and twins Sean and Shannon, all raised in the Soldotna area.

"He loved to read and was passionate about politics, but the joy he received from his family was the most profound. His most often repeated expression, as he looked out on the world in the morning, was: "Isn't it great to be alive". He kept busy tinkering with his many man-toys and visiting with friends over a glass of beer. After his wife retired in 1994 they enjoyed the snowbird lifestyle, traveling in their motor home to wherever the sun beckoned. He loved spoiling his standard poodle and loved all animals. His pockets were always full of doggy treats wherever he went. He worked hard and honestly for everything he had and truly appreciated his many blessings, every day of his life." His family said.

He was preceded in death by his parents; son, Sean; twin brother, Owen; and sister, Virginia Schultz.

He is survived by his wife, Gail; son, Patrick and his wife, Laurie, their children Ashley, Jesse, and his wife, Maria, all of Anchorage; daughter, Shannon Shaw and her husband, Jack, their children Skylar, Ty and Spencer Walgenbach, all of Sterling; and siblings Reba Bates and John McWethy of Champaign, IL.

Arrangements were by Peninsula Memorial Chapel

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