Bob Stokes

Posted: Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Longtime Alaska resident Bob Stokes died in Anchorage on Friday, May 30, 2008, surrounded by his family. He was 71.

A celebration of life will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 7, at the Petroleum Club of Anchorage, 3301 C Street.

Mr. Stokes was born Nov. 12, 1926, in Bismarck, N.D. His father worked for the railroad and his mother was a nurse. He served in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II. He graduated from Seattle University in 1951 and earned a masters degree from the University of Illinois in 1966.

He married Betty Ann Althoff, a nurse, in 1953. The couple raised five children in Alaska and Africa. They made homes in Iliamna, Ekwok, Homer, Tyonek, Ninilchik, Kodiak and in Machakos, Kenya. He came to Alaska in 1949 to work summers for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and as a fisherman in Bristol Bay.

He was a bush pilot for Hudson Air and Fish and Game. He taught school at Sanak Island, Iliamna, Ekwok, Anchor Point, Homer, Machakos Teachers College and Tyonek. He was school principal in Ninilchik and Kodiak, and also was the assistant superintendent of the Kodiak School District, overseeing the schools of Old Harbor, Akhiok, Larsen Bay, Port Lions, Ouzinkie, Chiniak and Karluk. His final career was 17 years as agency administrator for the Alaska Public Defender Agency.

"Bob mentored young teachers and young attorneys with his wit and outlook on the world. For many years, Bob spent weekends building a log home in Soldotna, enjoyed by family and friends. Family was of the utmost importance and Bob never missed an opportunity to organize a family gathering. In addition to his own kids," his family said. "Bob fostered and mentored many others. His family has often heard from former students that he was the best teacher they ever had.

"Bob was an avid bridge player, poker player, reader and writer. All appreciated his unique sense of humor and looked forward to receiving his letters and e-mails. He wrote and published a humorous book titled 'Contract Bridge for the Upwardly Mobile.' Bob was passionate about politics, a Democrat, an opponent of war and a strong advocate for children's health care. He also was preceded in death by his lifelong friend Father James Manske."

Mr. Stokes was preceded in death by his adopted son, Trefim Wassillie; brothers, Ed, Chuck and Ken Stokes.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years; sons, Pete Stokes and his wife, Mary, of Anchorage and Ninilchik and Nick Stokes and his wife, Eling Joseph, of St. Croix, USVI; daughters, Peggy Carlson and her husband, Don, of Fairbanks and Therese Stokes and her husband, Dennis Falldorf, of Anchorage; sister, Dorothy Gilbert of Enterprise, Ore.; brother Paul Stokes of Colorado Springs, Colo.; grandchildren, Sarah, Luke, Laura, Brenna, Erik, Bryan, Jessy, Jake and Erin; and great-grandchild Sorjen.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the Clare House, for homeless women and children or The Salvation Army.

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