Seldovia resident Marlin Thomas “Mike” Williamson, 86, died Feb. 11, 2013, in Pittsburgh, Pa. He is survived by his son Zon “Tsuri,” grandchildren Rochel, Miriam, Sara, Betsalel and Yosef; and great-grandchildren Chaya, Chanie, Shayna, Yossi, Dovid, Malka, Brocha and Channa.
Mike was born in Corvalis, Ore., on June 17, 1926. He was the youngest of the five children of Emma and Charlie Williamson. He lost his mother when he was 3 and grew up with his father and siblings, Lloyd, Beaula, Harry and Chuck. The Williamsons were a lively, good hearted bunch. As Mike would say, they were “as independent as a hog on ice.”
Mike drove truck for Dale Wood in Gold Beach, Ore. Dale had a son who went to Alaska to work on the North Slope. He was planning a trip to visit his son and suggested that Mike meet him in Fairbanks. Mike bought a trailer and, with wife, Frances, and son, Zon, headed north to Alaska in May 1969.
Mike fell in love with Alaska. At the end of the Homer Spit, he was talking to the locals at the Salty Dawg. They told him that there was logging going on across Kachemak Bay in Jakolof Bay.
Mike flew over to Jakolof, Frances and Zon waited on the Spit to bring the pickup and trailer over to Seldovia on the Tustumena. In Seldovia, Jack English arranged for Mike to park the trailer near the Russian Orthodox Church.
Hunting season came along and Mike brought home his first moose, and a new freezer to put it in. Frances and Zon were old hands at cutting and wrapping. There was always an ample supply of moose, goat, sheep, fish, crab and clams in the Williamson freezer.
In Seldovia, Mike sought out the old timers to hear their stories. He listened eagerly as Frank Raby, Steve Zawistowski and Herb Lindersmidt told of their early days in Alaska. Mike made friends with the younger generation, Jim and Tom Hopkins, Doug Giles, and Lowell “Doc” Suydam, to name but a few. Everyone knew that Mike was a good man to go hunting with, as long as you could keep up the pace.
When the logging in Jakolof eventually ceased, Mike, now in his 60s, went to work as a deck hand crabbing. He made several trips to Cook Inlet and the Bering Sea. Mike was also available to drive dump truck for Jim Hopkins in Seldovia and Dwight Glanville in Homer. Eventually, Mike settled down to fur trapping in the mountains above Jakolof and Seldovia.
Zon had settled in Pittsburgh, Pa. in 1987 and once or twice a year he and his family would come back to Seldovia for extended visits. Mike’s beloved Frances passed away in 2001 and he was not interested to travel outside Alaska. When his health failed in 2010, the decision was made to bring him to Pittsburgh for care.
Mike passed away peacefully on Monday morning, Feb. 11, 2013. “To the end, he was aware that he was loved and cared for by family,” his family said. “Mike was not an overtly religious man and in the tradition of the old-time loggers, he was always referring to his deity one way or the other. He used to say that, when on top of the mountains hunting goat, he expected it was as close to Heaven as he would ever get. However, judging by his accomplishments, his good name and the love and respect showered upon him by friends and family, Heaven surely has acquired a new resident Mountain Man.”
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