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Obituary, Maximilian Worhatch III, 81


Maximilian Worhatch III

Maximilian Worhatch III was born to Mary Josephine Gola and Maximilian Worhatch II on September 2nd, 1933 in Callery, Butler County, Pennsylvania. He was born at the height of the depression in an old farmhouse on the property where his father managed a fireworks company. In 1933 jobs were scarce and living conditions so dire that when the doctor was paid in dollars for his maternity services he broke down and cried, for it had been nearly a year since he had received actual money for his practice. ​Max was later joined by his younger sister Ernestine in 1937.​​ Much of his early life, the family had to move in with Mary's parents and her younger siblings on Madison Avenue in East Pittsburgh. Here, he was doted on by family and immersed in the rich cultural atmosphere of his Czech grandparents. His grandfather Gola's garden inspired a love and fascination with flowers and gardening ever since. His love of cabbage rolls, nut roll and traditional lentil soup came from there as well. Max loved this time, as it was rich in family tradition and education.

When economic times improved the family moved to the country. Max loved the country and told stories of squirrel hunting, trapping, fishing, and working the farms in the summer. He graduated from Mars High School at the age of 16. Max completed his bachelors of Science degree in Pharmacy at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh at the age of 20. On the first day of class he met his lifelong friend Chuck Weiss. After pharmacy school the two relocated to Cleveland, Ohio where Max was introduced to Maxine by a mutual nursing friend Barbara Markus.

Max was drafted to the navy in 1955 and was stationed in Oakland, California. Here the couple were married and returned to Ohio, where Max, Chuck Weiss, James Ingram, Ed Kennedy (and later partner Ted Dickey) went into the business of opening a small independent pharmacy chain known most appropriately as "Young Fellow Drug". Life was exploding with new stores and a plethora of children. Life was busy on all fronts but there still seemed to be some time for trips to Pennsylvania to see the relatives, and to buy and fly a Cessna 172 and fish pike in the remote areas of Canada with friends.

In the summer of 1968, Max packed his six kids and pregnant wife into a Chrysler station wagon, hitched up a pop up camper, and proceeded to drive cross­country to Seattle. From there, he loaded everyone and the vehicles on the Alaska state ferry. After a short stay in Ketchikan with his wife's cousin, where he got his first taste of salmon fishing, it was on to Haines, and a tour of the entire state that was accessible by road. He visited Kotzebue and Nome. It was in Nome that in a conversation with the local drug store owner, Max learned of a store for sale in a town he had never even seen, a place called Petersburg. The return trip to Tallmadge, Ohio, via the Alcan Highway, finished a summer vacation that was pivotal in his life.

On a beautiful frosty cold day in November of 1968, Max arrived in Petersburg to meet with Lester Elkins, the owner of the local drug store. By June of 1969 he had moved the family minus the Cessna to Alaska. It has been the Worhatch family home ever since. Max had the good fortune to purchase a home next to the Strands. Erling showed Max the ropes, teaching him how to smoke salmon, pickle herring, and all the other things that people around here did for fun. The pharmacy business was purchased from Les Elkins in August of 1969.

Max loved Alaska in all its natural beauty and abundance. He loved Petersburg and the pioneering, hardy people who lived here. He loved to fish and would often go early in the mornings before work with the likes of diehard trollers Dan O'Neil, Ted Sokol, Victor Guthrie and longtime friend and "other son" Paul Anderson. When he did take time off, much of it was spent with family in various forest service cabins from Swan Lake to Salmon Bay. He loved to hunt and often told tales of hunting mallards with Don Luhr in Duncan Canal. He was always intrigued with commercial fishing, often saying if he had come to Petersburg as a younger man, it would have been his profession. He dabbled in it, hand trolling for several years, crewing on Norm Tate's seiner the "Marietta J" for fall dog openings, and making a few gillnet trips with his son.

Max was a sports fan. He played basketball and baseball... a LOT of baseball. He was an adept fast­pitch softball pitcher. In Petersburg, he refereed high school basketball games for a few years. Later, he did play­by­play for the Viking games for radio. He loved to watch his children and grandchildren participate in sports. He was always encouraging and willing to offer advice. He loved college basketball and would watch it all winter, right through to the final four.

Max never retired. He continued to work as a paid employee of Petersburg Rexall handling accounts payable, payroll, taxes and miscellaneous tasks with the devoted help of his good friend, "other kid" Gene Bernaldo. Over the past couple of years, despite his challenges to get around physically, he and Maxine could be found checking out the plants and new blossoms at the Flower Farm or having a little picnic together out the road. He would often take Maxine out for a hotdog at the ballpark and they rarely missed the grandchildren's sporting, dance or concert events.​ His desire to serve and give back was remarkable. Max served the charter commission, was a city councilman, served on the utility board, and was a member of the local Chamber of Commerce.​ He enjoyed serving on the local National Bank of Alaska board with John Enge and Art Hammer. He was acknowledged for his community service at the 2012 annual tree lighting ceremony and his business was recognized twice as Business of the Year in both 2002 and 2008. ​Professionally, he was recognized by his peers receiving the highly distinguished Bowl of Hygia award for community service by the Alaska Pharmaceutical Association in 1995.

After many years away, Max returned to his Catholic faith that he remained devoted to until the end. He was very active in the parish, a key member of the men's club, and a true bass in the choir. Max will always be remembered for his integrity, honesty, service, work ethic, generosity, and his commitment to family. Many knew him as "Pappy" and will not forget his traditional Wednesday night spaghetti dinners with friends and family nor his Sunday night dinners with family. From pies to pastrami, it was all about giving. He was humble and didn't want to burden anyone up until the very end. He had just a few requests before he passed on May 11th; one was his rosary, the book "Unbroken" and his final request to his grandson Alex was to turn on the baseball game.

Max died suddenly but peacefully at the Petersburg Medical Center on May 11, 2015. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Gladys Maxine "Mimi", Mary Elizabeth Worhatch (daughter­-spouse Peter Poppe), Ann Marie Worhatch (daughter), Maximilian Worhatch IV (son-spouse Cena Martin), Catherine Kowalski (daughter-spouse Gregg Kowalski), Erica Worhatch (daughter), Emily Culley (daughter-spouse James Culley), Andrew Morris Worhatch (son-­spouse Angel Wenzel)

Grandchildren: Drue Robert Vernon, Nina Josephine Poppe, Danika Marie Williams, Derek Tyler Williams, Luke Alexander Williams, Maximilian Corbin Worhatch V, Cody Cameron Worhatch, Lucia Denise Worhatch, Ivy Maxine Worhatch, Eva Marie Maxine Kowalski, Vincent Russell Kowalski, Peter Gregory Kowalski, James Maximilian Culley, Grace Evelyn Culley, Alexander Phillip Worhatch, Amanda Josephine Worhatch, Abigail Beatrice Worhatch. Also numerous nieces, nephews and cousins, and friends of great thanks over the years: Paul Anderson and Gene Bernaldo.

Graveside services will be Saturday, May 23​rd at 11:00 am at Petersburg Cemetery, followed by a mass at St. Catherine of Siena, immediately followed by a reception at the parish hall.

Honorary pallbearers: Tom Abbott, Tom Reinarts, Jerry Whitethorn, Joe Stratman, Lee Coyle, Gene Bernaldo, Don Koenigs, George Doyle, Al Dwyer, Mike Durbin, Ed Tagaban, Rich Jennings, Jeff Rice, Brandon Thomas, Raymond Ochoa, Jim Whitethorn, Rob Schwartz and Paul Anderson.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Max's favorite charity: St. Catherine of Siena, PO Box 508, Petersburg, Alaska 99833.



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