Obituary, Oliver Hofstad
Oliver Hofstad loved.
He loved his wife, loved his family, loved boats, loved fishing, loved hunting, loved Alaska--and most especially that little corner of it called Scow Bay. A first generation American born to Norwegian immigrant parents, Oliver’s childhood and early adulthood was lived in and around Scow Bay.
Born of a long history of sea-faring ancestors, love of boats was in his blood. At age 10, a slight exaggeration of his age to the Postmaster landed him his first job, delivering the mail from Petersburg to Scow Bay--by boat. His father was a fisherman, and his older brothers too. Working on their boats as a youth, it wasn’t long before he had his own fishing boat, the Genidor.
When the United States joined WWII, Oliver parked his boat and joined the Navy. Before long CPO Hofstad was afloat again, assigned to duty running a local fishing boat the Navy commandeered to patrol the waters off the coast of Southeast Alaska from a base in Port Walter.
When the war was finally over, on the steam ship North Sea headed home from Seattle to Petersburg, Oliver met the love of his life. Pretty Angie Hasbrouck, like Oliver, was returning home to Petersburg from her war time secretarial position with Army supply requisition in Georgia. Angie was a perfect life partner for Oliver. Raised on Camp Island at the mouth of LeConte Glacier, she too loved to hunt and fish. They were married in October 1946.
Together, afloat or on foot for 67 years, they hiked, hunted, fished, camped, berry picked, dug clams, mushroomed, crabbed, shrimped, pickled herring, smoked fish, picnicked, gardened, RV’d, bird watched, and enjoyed their shared passion for a subsistence lifestyle.
Oliver longlined, seined and crabbed as the family grew: first a son, (Andy, sadly lost at age 21) and then four daughters. And family traditions grew as well, the children awaiting with mingled delight and dread for a homecoming “whiskering” --a bear hug and kiss with a fishing trips worth of Dad’s beard growth, duck plucking and herring pickling parties, being sent to bed with a gruff Norwegian “uppe lofte” followed by a tender tucking in and Dad’s special custom shaped or Swedish pancakes on Sunday.
Oliver’s kind and generous nature was highlighted by another tradition. Following every fishing trip he delighted in delivering fresh fish around town to his long list of old bachelor friends and retired fisherman living in warehouses and scows, and to his large circle of friends and family.
Oliver “retired” from commercial fishing and took a position with the state’s Department of Fish and Game skippering the research vessel “Stellar.” He loved working with the biologists and seeing the fishing industry from a different perspective. After retiring from running the Stellar he and Angie spent summers trolling and winters traveling, eventually settling into a snowbird routine, spending the icy heart of winter in Palm Desert.
Hunting and fishing remained Oliver’s great pleasures for his entire life. Fall, which brought the hunting seasons, was his favorite time of year. His beloved son-in-law Dave became his frequent hunting and fishing buddy, and the two of them could be found often found dragging a shrimp trawl through Scow Bay, deer and moose hunting, sport fishing, crabbing or hauling in a load of firewood.
Oliver took great pride in maintaining his boats and his home in shipshape condition. Into his 90s he could be found atop a ladder sweeping a chimney or cleaning the 2nd story rain gutters at his Scow Bay “ranch.”
He loved to gather together with friends and family, and his home has been the center of family gatherings for four generations of his siblings, children, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Oliver was an enthusiastic and proud life time member of the Sons of Norway and Pioneers of Alaska, and took great joy in attending dinner meetings to enjoy the company and conversation of his many old friends.
Oliver died on July 16th, at age 95.
He leaves behind his wife Angie; daughters and sons-in-law Anna & Dave Holmes, Olivia Olsen & Tom Drennan, Ella & Bill Hisaw, Susan & Bill Lewis, grandchildren Kari Petersen, Guy Holmes, Doris Olsen, John Olsen, Marcie Hinde, Melissa Staples, Travis Nyberg, Todd Nyberg, Dane, Katie, Sumner & Campbell Lewis, and a deck-load of great-grandchildren; nephews and nieces Dale (Skip) Hirt, Eugene (Corky) Hirt, Mike Hirt, Ross Nelson, Matt Nelson, Joe Nelson, Greg Severson, Mark Severson, Nancy Lampe, Barbara Hofstad, Ruth Hofstad, Marjorie Hofstad, Mary Ann Olson, Terry Hasbrouck, Glenda Lindley, Theresa Vick, Ted Hasbrouck, Leta Ford, Tonya Carr, Tammy Hasbrouck, David Hofstad and Gary Jones.
Oliver is loved.