Donald Bryant Bedford

Posted: Sunday, February 14, 2010

Juneau resident Donald Bryant Bedford died of natural causes on Feb. 10, 2010, at Bartlett Hospital. He was 87.

He was born Sept. 12, 1922, in Oregon's Willamette Valley but spent his early years in the Los Angeles basin. He graduated from Shedd High School in Oregon when he was 16.

He studied aeronautical engineering for three years at John Brown University Siloam Springs, Ark. At the outbreak of World War II, he returned to Glendale, Calif., to perform essential war work at Lockheed Aircraft.

In 1942 he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, initially as an aircraft mechanic and was later accepted into the Aviation Cadet program. He had completed most of his training and was transitioning into fighter planes when the war ended. He was honorably discharged from the service and returned to work at Lockheed Aircraft.

In late 1947, he became dissatisfied with his life in a populous area so took time off from work for a trip to Alaska. He accepted a job with Alaska Coastal Airlines in Juneau and remained with them through the transition to Alaska Airlines.

He married a co-employee, Carol Rieke, in June 1950. After a honeymoon in Don's two place T-craft float plane, which took them the full length of the Yukon River, they moved into their house in Auke Bay where he resided until his death.

Don and Carol were charter members of the Chapel by the Lake and were part of a small group of volunteers who built the original log chapel. Don and Carol erected, constructed a cabin at Chilkat Lake near Haines in 1957 that became a focal point for family time and remains a source of recreation for the children.

He remained an active pilot until into his 60s and was also very involved as a mechanic in the small aircraft community in Juneau for many years. He retired from Alaska Airlines in 1993 after 45 years of employment. He received the Charles Taylor award for fifty years as an aircraft mechanic.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Carol.

He is survived by his three children, daughters, Holly Bedford, of Seattle, and Laurel Bennett and husband, Alan, of Dalton, Wis., and son, Dennis Bedford, of Juneau.

A memorial service is planned for later in the year when all family members can attend.

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