Alaska author visiting KPC today

Posted: Monday, April 21, 2003

At age 91, Mary Carey is satisfied with life.

"I love teaching and reporting, and I love books," Carey said.

Carey has authored 15 books, including "Alaska -- Not For A Woman," a compilation of stories from her days as a Talkeetna homesteader, journalist and school teacher.

"I've been able to accomplish all the things I wanted to do," she said. "What more can you ask?"

Carey will visit Kenai Peninsula College from 1 to 3 p.m. today in Soldotna. She'll sign books and discuss her experiences as a teacher in a one-room school.

"I was the first high school teacher in our small community," she said. "We had no books that first year, so it was quite a challenge."

But Carey likes a challenge.

Her husband, Dick, died suddenly in 1962, six days before they were to begin their journey from Texas to Alaska.

"I decided to come to Alaska on my own, and I'm glad I did. I found our dream," she said.

Talkeetna was a fly-in community in the early 1960s, when Carey was homesteading there.

"I used to run an old dress up a flag pole to signal the bush pilot when I wanted him to give me a lift somewhere or take things to be mailed," she said.

As a freelance journalist, Carey often flew with Don Sheldon, a pilot renowned for his mountain rescues. In 1964, she became the first woman to land on Mount McKinley during the winter. That same year, Carey witnessed the Knik River bridge swaying back and forth during the major earthquake in March.

"After the bridge stopped swaying, I drove over it and on to Anchorage," she said. "I found plenty of news to write about that day."

Carey's writings were published in the Anchorage Daily News, the Fairbanks News-Miner and other Alaska publications. She received several awards, including Fawcett Publications' True Story Award in 1955 and the Leadership Award given by the National Federation of Press Women in 1980.

The public is invited to visit with Carey in the commons area at the college. For more information, call 262-0330.

Ann Marina is a freelance writer who lives in Kenai.

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