James M. Burzinski


Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Soldotna resident James M. Burzinski died Saturday, Aug. 16, 2003. He was 74.

Memorial services will be at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20, at Peninsula Memorial Chapel in Kenai. Pastor Chuck Thornton will officiate.

Mr. Burzinski was born in Savannah, Ill., on March 7, 1929. He spent his youth in LaCrosse, Wis., where he was involved in boat racing. He served in the U.S. Army and received an honorable discharge in 1953.

On Aug. 13, 1951, he married Margaret Jacobson. During the summer of 1969, the couple packed up their four sons and drove to Alaska, where they toured the state before settling in Valdez. While living in Valdez, Mr. Burzinski drove a tanker truck for Weaver Bros., transported trans-Alaska pipeline pipe for Kaps Transport and later maintained public school buildings for the Valdez School District.

In 1973, Mr. Burzinski moved his family to Anchorage, where he worked for Kaps Transport as line haul dispatcher. He also held positions as maintenance manager for the Hotel Captain Cook and as an instructor for the Local 959 Teamster Union in the electrical, piping and mechanical warehouse training program.

After moving to Soldotna, he purchased Riteway Marine, a boat repair and rental business, where he earned the name "Mr. Nice Guy." His shop was a gathering spot where many fishers and old-time Alaskans stopped to talk and swap fishing tales. The insightful quotes papering his "Wall of Fame" were a constant source of entertainment for his friends and customers.

"Jim enjoyed his repair business and the friends it brought him, but after his family, his first love was salmon fishing. He started in the Prince William Sound during the 1970s, the Kenai River during the 1980s and Deep Creek during the 1990s. The highlight of his summers was his annual fishing expeditions to Valdez for the Silver Salmon Derby," his family said.

Mr. Burzinski is survived by his wife of 52 years, Margaret; sons and daughters-in-law, Mike and Soni Burzinski of Soldotna, Tim and Veronica Burzinski of Anchorage and Tony and Laura Burzinski of Anchorage; son, Jim Burzinski of Valdez; and seven granddaughters, two grandsons and two great-grandsons.

Memorial donations in Mr. Burzinski's name may be sent to the American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 2165, Kenai, AK 99611.

Arrangements were made by Peninsula Memorial Chapel.

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