Former longtime Juneau resident Gerald Ray Vaught died May 3, 2008, in Sitka in a bicycle accident. He was 54.
He was born Feb. 24, 1954, in Odessa, Texas, the son of John Herman and Elige Lee (Davis) Vaught.
He graduated from Toledo High School, in Toledo, Ore., where he won titles in wrestling. Over the years, he also joked about his education at the "school of hard knocks."
He worked as a logger in Oregon, and was a fisherman off the Florida coast and as far as the Bering Sea in Alaska. In 1959, he moved to Juneau, where he drove for Arrow Refuge for many years.
In 1993, he moved back to Sitka, where he was a bartender at the Kiksadi Club, Columbia Bar and the American Legion. He and his former wife, Barbara Jean Hipplemen, were married at the Kiksadi Club, owned at the time by Gerald's friend Frankie Haag.
He was a member of the Elks Lodge, American Legion Post 13, Moose Lodge and Eagles Lodge.
He was a Scuba diver, fished and hunted, and was an avid bike rider. In 1989, while visiting in Juneau, he decided to enter the Governor's Race, in which he placed 15th.
He also greatly enjoyed visiting with his many friends and family members in Sitka and Juneau.
His family said he was a "man among men." He was always there when you needed a loving ear, willing to help you in any way, they said. He was a loved, honored and respected friend who will truly be missed by all, they said.
He was preceded in death by his father, John Herman Vaught, in 1995; mother, Elige Lee Vaught, in 1991; and a sister, Phillis Kay (Vaught) Rhodes and husband, Dale Rhodes.
He is survived by his sisters, Ramona (Vaught) Ricks and husband, Charles, of Grandbury, Texas, JoAnn (Vaught) Vertner and husband, Gary, of Otis, Ore., Lola Denise Vaught and Greg Kautz, of Juneau, and Mariane Stone, of Grandbury, Texas; and many nieces and nephews.
After cremation, half of his ashes will remain in Sitka and the other half will be taken to Texas to be spread with those of other family members.
Honorary pallbearers are Todd Haag, Harvey Belcourt, Clint Buckmaster, Nielsen Brothers, Carl Osbakken, Arthur Jeffery Kinnan, Bert Edenso, Mark Mikelski, Herbie Didrickson and Geri Beach.
Memorials may be made to the Gerald Vaught Memorial Fund, C/O Lola Denise Vaught, 361 Distin Ave., Apt. 103, Juneau, AK 99801.