Walter Anson Ormasen, 81, died peacefully in his sleep Dec. 30, 2007. He was fit and active to the end. His portrait in "Between Friends," a Canadian coffee table book published in honor of the United States bicentennial in 1976, could have been taken last year, friends said.
An overflow crowd including former borough officials and peace officers, clergy, family, and friends from Haines and Klukwan turned out Saturday January 5, 2008 at the Port Chilkoot Bible Church to pay last respects to retired Alaska State Trooper Walt Ormasen.
Ormasen was eulogized as a man of integrity, honor, and compassion. "He wore the uniform well," said retired U.S. Customs and Border Protection Port Director Judy Ewald. His blue shirt was always ironed and his Harley Davidson motorcycle polished.
Neighbor Erwin Hertz said, "Walt looked like a state trooper and he acted like one. When you saw him, you knew you were in good hands."
From 1969 until his retirement in 1981, Ormasen met the ferry, drove to the border and back regularly and monitored late-night activity. Resident Jan Hill said Ormasen was the law when she was young "and we all knew it."
Peggy Ormasen said her husband loved his job and "always put his trooper duties first and strived to keep the community a safe place."
Neighbor Kevin Reeves said OrmasenÍs first impression was that of "John Wayne on a Harley," but once you got to know him you saw a softer side, especially when it came to cats. "The only time I saw Walt choke up was over the death of his cat Harley,î said pastor Gary Lidholm.
Mayor Fred Shields rode motorcycles with Ormasen. He noted that, in retirement, Ormasen wasnÍt averse to breaking the speed limit, and once clocked him at 95 mph on his Harley. "Walt was a great guy."
Walter Anson Ormasen was born Sept. 16, 1926 in rural Sandy Creek, N.Y., to Edith and Thorlife Ormasen, a Norwegian immigrant. He graduated from Sandy Creek High School and joined the Navy, serving as boatswainÍs mate second-class on the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt at the end of World War II. He left military service in 1953.
After the military, he became patrolman for the Watertown police department and a New York state trooper before taking a job with the border patrol in El Paso, Texas. He left for California after a supervisor said he hated Yankees, according to former mayor Mike Case, who also served on the Roosevelt.
He married Peggy Freed in Anaheim California. Working, as a sergeant on the Los Alamitos police department during the Watts riots in 1965 was so "devastating" to Ormasen, he found work in Alaska with the Ketchikan police, his wife said. After graduating from the first Alaska state trooper academy held in Sitka, he was posted briefly in Juneau and came to Haines in early 1969, where he spent the rest of his life. "Walter loved Haines," Peggy said.
She said that in his retirement he remained a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Walter enjoyed coffee in the cafes, ptarmigan hunting. He would Harley until the first snowfall, back out on the road again when the streets where clear of ice and snow. Walt took immense pleasure in volunteering at Rainbow Glacier Camp maintaining the buildings and grounds. He was a member the Port Chilkoot Bible Church, a Freemason, and a member of the Elks, lifetime member NRA, Blue Knights International, FOST Fraternal Order Alaska State Troopers, life member Alaska Peace Officers Association, VFW along with membership in the Harley Davidson OwnerÍs Group.
His parents Thorlief and Edith Ormasen along brother Karl and Aunt Vivian Slater precede him death.
He is survived by his wife Peggy, of Haines son Marc, Anchorage and daughter Susan Bennett and husband Bart, and children Kyle, Brittany, Connor and Breanne; Renton WA daughter Sonja and her husband Dick Matott; son Arne and his wife Debbie; Governor NY grandson Nicholas Ormasen, wife Amber and great granddaughter Morgan Herman NY, sister, Hilda Clemens and husband Bob Rocky Mount NC as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
Condolences may be sent to the Ormasen Family P.O. Box 450 Haines Alaska 99827