Obituary: Gainhart (Bud) Samuelson, Junior, 77

 

April 25, 2024

Gainhart (Bud) Samuelson, Junior

Bud was born on February 13, 1947, to Gainhart Samuelson, Senior, and Mildred (Massey) Samuelson. A lifelong resident of Petersburg, he grew up living with his mother and siblings on Hammer Slough. Summers were spent with his father at Portage Bay, where he loved fishing and hunting and grew determined to one day run a commercial fishing vessel of his own and to be a good provider for his family.

After graduating from Petersburg High School in 1965, Bud landed a job on Andy Wikan's boat, crabbing, longlining and seining aboard the wooden fishing vessel Pacific Sea. Before long, his dream future began to clarify around the captain's lovely daughter, Audrey Wikan. Determined to impress, he worked relentlessly, embracing the ethics and hard work needed to succeed. And he did – in 1968, Bud and Audrey were married in Honolulu, Hawaii. They returned to Petersburg ready to start a family and on December 2, 1969, they welcomed a daughter, Gwynne Rachelle.

Bud's fishing career accelerated until he was crabbing, seining, tendering and longlining throughout Southeast Alaska, the Gulf of Alaska, and the Bering Sea. Following the dream, Bud and Audrey bought their current home on the Wrangell Narrows and proudly welcomed their second child, Steven Andrew on January 31, 1977 – the same year Bud purchased his first boat, the Seafarer, expanding his ambitions to Cook Inlet. That fall, the Seafarer was lost in a storm described as a horrific and terrifying experience. Luckily, everyone survived!

Bud continued crabbing in the Bering Sea, running the Adventure and the Theresa Marie until 1985 when he became a founding partner and the sole operator of the 115' Prowler, a longline operation that caught, processed and froze black cod at sea.

Bud loved Petersburg and held positions on many boards and commissions, including Icicle Seafoods, Hammer and Wikan and the Petersburg Vessel Owners Association.

After Andy Wikan's death in 1986, Bud and Audrey purchased the Pacific Sea, the boat Bud's career began on. During the summer months, when he wasn't running the Prowler, Bud ran the Pacific Sea until 1990, when they decided to make life a bit easier. They sold the wooden Pacific Sea to purchase a new Delta – the fiberglass Pacific Sea, which Bud used for seining, longlining, crabbing and herring until they sold the operation in 2007, the first time Bud retired.

In 2009, Bud and Audrey built a cabin at Pt. Agassiz, which was a lovely place to be, but still in the rainforest. Having spent much of their married life out fishing or tendering, Bud had promised Audrey they would one day buy a house somewhere warm and be snowbirds who flew south "as soon as the first snowflake hit [his] ass."

They bought a home in Peoria, Arizona, where they cultivated a group of friends they really enjoyed, but the lure of the fishing grounds, which seems to be in every fisherman's blood and deep in their bones, would build in Bud until Audrey had to send him up to Petersburg to do some trolling and get it out of his system. That worked until the salmon season approached, when it was seemingly impossible for him to say no if asked to run the Kamilar, the Silver Dolphin, the Adventure, or the Theresa Marie.

In a poignant moment one morning on the Adventure, tied up to a big raft of boats outside of Craig, and standing by, Bud, with coffee cup in hand, turned his gaze from the wheelhouse window and told his son Steven that nearly every boat he'd ever owned or operated throughout his career was tied up alongside them.

Bud continued to run boats until his sudden death on March 14, 2024, in Peoria, Arizona.

He was preceded in death by his father, Gainhart Samuelson Sr; his mother, Mildred (Jack) Massey; and his sister, Darlene Samuelson.

He is survived by his wife, Audrey; daughter, Gwynne (Dennis) Jones; son, Steven; grandchildren, Andrew, Matthew and Buddy Bergen; his siblings, Annette (Helmer) Olson, Janice Kvernvick, Bette Massey (Chris Ottesen) and Andrew (Janet) Massey; many cousins, nieces and nephews, and a community of lifelong friends.

Friends and family are invited to share refreshments and memories at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, at the Sons of Norway Hall.

 

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