Longtime Nikiski resident Wesley Earl Bethje died Wednesday, May 7, 2003, at the Central Peninsula General Hospital in Soldotna. He was 78.
Memorial services will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Kenai Masonic Lodge No. 11, Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in Soldotna. Pastor John Henry will officiate. Mr. Bethje's ashes will be scattered in the Kenai River at a later date.
Mr. Bethje was born July 30, 1924, in Grizzly Bluff, Calif., in Humboldt County. He attended and graduated from Battle Ground High School in Battle Ground, Wash. He served in the U.S. Navy during the European theater and spent a potion of his tour of duty in Italy.
He worked on the oil platforms and built bridges and docks in the late 1950s when he first moved to Alaska. He was a member of the Piledrivers Local No. 2520 and worked in Anchorage, Seward and Kodiak before retiring in 1987.
After retiring, he volunteered his time at the Nikiski Senior Citizens Center. He was a member of the Umatilla Lodge in Oregon, where he was awarded the Blue Lodge in Masonry, and he received his 32nd Degree in Cincinnati. He also was a charter member of "AL ASKA" Shrine Temple, Oasis of the Midnight Sun-Desert of Alaska. He enjoyed woodworking and fishing.
Mr. Bethje was preceded in death by his parents, Carl and Elsie Bethje; brothers, Merle and Lloyd Bethje; sisters, Alice Cally and Florence Unger; and stepsons, Donald and Michael Taylor.
He is survived by his wife of 38 years, June Bethje of Nikiski; brothers, Alvin Bethje of Camas, Wash., and Leo Bethje of La Center, Wash.; daughters, Shirley Holmes of Joseph, Ore., and Cassandra Faulkner of Woodland, Wash.; stepson, Benny Macracken of Anchorage; stepdaughter, Sonja Macracken of Bend, Ore.; 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in memory of Mr. Bethje to the Nikiski Senior Citizens Center, P.O. Box 6973, Nikiski, AK 99635.
Arrangements were made by Peninsula Memorial Chapel.
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