An interpretive sign recognizing the renaming of the small, Douglas boat harbor was unveiled during an unofficial ceremony of family and community officials this past weekend.
The “Mike Pusich Douglas Harbor,” named after the former mayor of Douglas and Douglas Fire Department chief, was unofficially dedicated Saturday with more than 70 relatives in attendance.
An official dedication ceremony will take place in several years when the harbor is completed.
“The Pusich family decided, due to there only being three out of seven kids still alive, we needed to have a celebration sooner than later,” said Sharon Pusich Gill, a granddaughter who conducted the event.
The City and Borough of Juneau Museum awarded the Pusich family partial funding for the sign through the Juneau Historical grant program. The family raised the remaining costs.
“In recognition of Mike’s passion for Douglas, as well as his numerous contributions, decades of public service and vision for the community, the Douglas boat harbor is named in his honor,” the sign reads in part.
The city Assembly renamed the harbor in April of 2012.
Born in Kumbor, Yugoslavia (Croatia), Pusich came to the United States in 1905. He landed in Douglas in 1909 and opened his first of several businesses in 1914 at the age of 23.
In addition to a bar and pool hall, and a grocery store, Pusich remodeled and operated the Alaskan Hotel in 1922.
Elected as assistant fire chief of the Douglas Fire Department in 1927, Pusich quickly rose through the ranks to become chief from 1936 until 1947. He was elected mayor in 1947.
Port Director Carl Uchytil lauded the Pusich family’s efforts.
“I commend the Pusich family for their initiative in applying for the grant through the CBJ for the sign and for their own private donations to bring the sign to fruition,” Uchytil said. “We intend to do a more grand ceremony once we rebuild the second phase of the Mike Pusich Douglas Harbor facility.”
Assembly Members Loren Jones and Mary Becker were in attendance Saturday.
“It was an absolutely wonderful event with Pusichs from all over the country and many former students of mine,” Becker said. “It was a lot of fun. It was like a Douglas picnic.”
Pusich, who also operated Mike’s Place on Douglas, was known for serving returning veterans a free meal and offering spaghetti as a side dish along with others. It was in this way the family celebrated his memory with the signature dish as the event concluded on Sandy Beach.
“He was very involved with civic originations within the city of Douglas along with being mayor,” Gill said. “He was just one of these men. Douglas was his new family and he’d do anything to help it grow and move forward.”
• Contact reporter Kenneth Rosen at 523-2250 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.