Juan MacFarlane, UAS graduate, father of two, killed in fall

Posted: Monday, May 20, 2002

Juneau resident Juan MacFarlane died Sunday after he fell from a ladder while painting a house.

"He was doing a good deed for a neighbor," said his wife Christine MacFarlane.

Juan MacFarlane, 29, was painting the house Sunday morning while the neighbor family was out of town. According to his wife, he was finishing the trim when the ladder on which he was standing shifted sideways and he fell head-first onto concrete. When his wife got to him, he was unresponsive.

According to his wife, he was put on a respirator at the Bartlett Regional Hospital, but never regained consciousness. Between noon and 1 p.m. Sunday, she gave medical staff permission to take him off the respirator.

MacFarlane, a 2002 University of Alaska Southeast graduate, was the father of two daughters, 3 and 5. He recently received a bachelor of liberal arts degree in communications with an emphasis in creative writing from UAS, and planned to be a teacher. According to UAS faculty, he balanced his time between being a full-time stay-at-home dad and a student.

"Juan is somebody who just loves to write, and really is committed to working hard," said Alexis Easley, assistant professor of English. "He really saw how important his education was to his family. He was a model to his daughters. He loved those daughters."

Christine MacFarlane worked while her husband went to school, allowing him to take care of the children. According to Sue Koester, his academic advisor and professor of English, he enjoyed his children and the balance he had between being a father and a student.

"It's so rare, there's not too many of those models," said Koester. "We all have a sense of accomplishment when a student graduates. His dream was to go into teaching. He truly would have been a gifted teacher. I'm deeply saddened."

MacFarlane worked closely with Robert Sewell, coordinator of advising and support services at UAS, creating newsletters for the UAS staff council and making contact with students.

"He was very warm, direct, compassionate and family focused," said Sewell. "He adored his daughters and had a charming way with youngsters. He was graceful with his children."

Sewell said graduating from college was a key milestone for MacFarlane, partly for him and partly for his family.

Easley remembers a graduation luncheon MacFarlane attended. She said he talked glowingly about the value of his liberal arts education and how it enriched his life.

Emily Wall, a visiting assistant professor of English, said MacFarlane was one of her most passionate students.

"He taught poetry to RALLY kids," Wall said. "He had them write about the Fourth of July. He wrote wonderful poetry and got everybody else so excited. We're going to miss him."

Services have not yet been scheduled, but Christine MacFarlane said they most likely will be May 26 or 27.

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