Robert 'Jim' Pegues

Posted: Thursday, March 29, 2007

Former Juneau resident Robert James "Jim" Pegues died peacefully of cancer on March 15, 2007, at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, Calif., with his two daughters by his side. He was 90.

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He was born March 29, 1916, in Fairbanks to John Edward Pegues and Alice Maude Pegues. His father, editor of the Fairbanks Daily News, moved his family to Juneau to become city editor and later managing editor of the Alaska Daily Empire. He vied with his older brother and other carriers to become the first paperboy to jump aboard the steamship which called then, to sell the Empire at 10 cents a copy, and succeeded.

Following the divorce of his parents, he moved to Orange County, Calif., where his mother, brother and grandfather lived and where he became a smudge potter in the orange groves.

Unlike his brother, who went on to college and a career in newspapering, he shunned a college education for his abiding interest in cars and engines.

Hired by the Lockheed Aircraft Co. in the late 1930s as a mechanic, he began a 55-year career in the aerospace industry to become an engineer, topping his working years on the staff of Kelly Johnson, Art Bradley and Ben Rich at the "Skunk Works," protecting and serving his country in the development of the U2 and SR71, as well as on some projects still secret.

He married Isla Maxine Mank on Oct. 12, 1946, in the Church of the Lighted Window in LaCanada, Calif. They had two daughters.

Family and friends remember him for his lively wit, good humor and enthusiasm for golf, skiing and surfing. He was on the links frequently well into his 90th year. According to his family, he more times than not scored his age or less.

In earlier years, he surfed, often with Olympian and actor Johnny Weismueller. In the days of rope tows, he "jarred" up the slope towed behind a tracked vehicle driven by the developer of the Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort.

He visited Juneau and Tenakee Springs several times in recent years to see family and old sights.

He was preceded in death by his parents; wife; brother; and half brothers, Terry, Geoff, Dick and Bill Pegues.

He is survived by his daughters, Cherie Dodds and her husband, Rob, of Nipomo, Calif., and Dana Fritzler and her husband, Glen, of Santa Barbara, Calif.; half brothers, Rod Pegues, of Juneau, and Don and Bob Pegues, of Tenakee Springs; sister-in-law, Sue Mason, of San Rafael, Calif.; grandchildren in California; and numerous nieces and nephews in California and Alaska.

At the request of his family, there were no services. Cremation was conducted under the direction of the Neptune Society of Santa Barbara.

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