Sept. 9, 1956-Oct. 3, 2016
Longtime Homer resident and Cook Inlet fisherman Paul Mackie died Oct. 3, 2016, in his home overlooking Kachemak Bay. His wife and brother were at his side. Paul was 60 years old.
Born and raised in Baltimore, Paul was the second of five children. After graduating from high school and hitchhiking across the country, Paul returned to Maryland to serve a three-year term with the National Guard. Paul then moved to upstate New York, enrolling at Niagara University to pursue a degree in business. Over the next 10 years, Paul tried his hand at an assortment of jobs as he travelled around the United States. He practiced as a title officer, sold vacuum cleaners, shined shoes, built greenhouses, and worked the line in a beet factory — forever ruining his taste for beets.
In 1989, Paul packed his life and his faithful four-legged companion, Newman, into his dad’s old, gray Checker and headed up the Alaska Highway. Arriving soon after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, he was employed briefly in Valdez and then volunteered at the Otter Rescue Center in Seward. Paul found his way to Homer by late summer and enlisted with a crew to wash the beach in Mars Cove for the remainder of the season. There, Paul formed the connection to the ocean and fishing community that influenced the remainder of his life.
Later that fall, Paul fell in love. Tracy Asselin had recently arrived from New Jersey and the two spent their first Alaskan winter in a small homestead cabin on Swift Creek at the head of Kachemak Bay. They briefly parted ways in the spring when Paul headed out for his first season of commercial fishing, and thus began the routine that Paul would continue for the next three decades.
In 1996, Paul finally agreed to tuck in his shirt, put on a tie, and marry the girl of his dreams. He and Tracy began building their beautiful home and gardens on Baycrest Hill. Years later, he buried his old friend Newman in a shady spot beside the gardens, and eventually two more beloved dogs, Tahj and Murphy.
Projects on the property occupied Paul during off seasons. No matter how busy, however, Paul always set aside time to serve on local boards and commissions, and to meet the boys for poker nights in the loft above the garage. Paul was also an enthusiastic, and occasionally emotional, sports fan. Between projects, he could often be found in front of the television encouraging his Fantasy Football players, cursing college basketball refs, and cheering for his beloved Orioles. Most evenings, though, he saved for Tracy, and the two enjoyed quiet times at home.
During the winter of 2007, Paul designed and built a beautiful commercial greenhouse on their Baycrest property. That spring, before Paul headed out for the fishing season, he and Tracy opened Baycrest Greenhouse.
Paul never lost his love for fishing or Homer’s fishing community. Over the years, he mentored his nephews as well as many local teens as they worked alongside him fishing for halibut and salmon on the Tyee and Lorri Lee.
Paul’s most recent project was to restore an orange 1978 VW van. He was hoping to pack up Tracy and the dogs and hit the road now and again. Paul grew sick with pancreatic cancer before he finished the project, and he spent the last six months of his life enjoying long visits with family and friends and relishing those quiet evenings with Tracy.
Respected for his insightful conversation, well-formed opinions, and vast knowledge of useless trivia, Paul enjoyed the company of his many friends. They, in turn, will remember him warmly for his honesty, big heart, and boisterous laugh.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Edward and Carolyn. He is survived by his wife, Tracy Asselin; sister, Carol, and spouse, William Morris; sister, Margaret; brother, Patrick, and spouse, Susan Mackie; sister, Theresa, and spouse, Beth Richard; 19 nieces and nephews; six great nieces and nephews; and in-laws, Chuck and Sue Asselin, Lynn and David Crimmins, Christine and Robert Duffy, and Peter and Jennifer Asselin.
Throughout his 27 years in Homer, Paul was a committed and generous supporter of many local nonprofit agencies, including the Homer Community Food Pantry, Hospice of Homer and KBBI. In lieu of flowers, his family requests that you honor his memory by making a contribution to a local nonprofit agency of your choice.
No service is planned at this time.