Harold "Skip" Zenger Jr.

Posted: Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Former Juneau resident Harold "Skip" Zenger Jr., of Bothell, Wash., died June 10, 2009, in Kirkland, Wash. He was 64.

Born March 22, 1945, in Alexandria, Va., to Harold Herschel Zenger Sr. and Mildred Emily Zenger, he traveled in 1945 to Alaska aboard an Alaska steamship, where he received his nickname "Skipper," which later became just "Skip."

Raised in Juneau, he graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1963. He attended Pacific Lutheran University and then San Diego State University and graduated in June, 1969, with a Bachelors of Science in Biology. Shortly after he began his federal employment in Kodiak with Exploratory Fishing and Gear Research, which later became National Marine Fisheries.

In 1972, Skip was recruited by a friend in the United Nations and left for a 4-year position in Brazil. While in Brazil, first in Florianopolis and later in Salvador, he became fluent in Portuguese by writing cruise reports, listening to Bossa Nova, and talking with his friends. This is also where he met his second wife, Marta. Skip fell in love with Brazil and went back almost every year to spend time with his newfound family and friends.

Returning to the states in July 1977 with a family, he reestablished his government service as a research fishery biologist while working out of Sand Point Naval Base, off of research vessels in the Bering Sea and off the coast of Japan and Australia. During those many years working for NOAA, Skip pioneered the use of magnesium alloy timed-released devices and specialized in supplying historical catch information. He returned to academia for graduate work in Fisheries Biology at UW and participated in the U.S.-Japan cooperative longline survey, helped establish the AFSC longline survey of the Gulf of Alaska, and co-authored a book culminating that research.

He retired on Jan. 6, 2005, but only from "official" work. He and Marta became part of a condominium community where he became a much respected board member. He was instrumental in helping owners during major reconstruction. He worked very hard to help coordinate the annual Juneau-Douglas Picnic, where his "techie" skills and love of Juneau came together to make the event fun and memorable.

He could often be found riding his bike on the Sammamish Trail or paddling his canoe on the Sammamish River, where he collected thousands of golf balls that would be donated to youth golf programs. Annual trips to Brazil and the special times spent at the park or in the pool with his grandchildren, "Meme" and "LeLaina," who rounded out Skip's retirement.

His humble demeanor, meticulous attention to detail, genuineness and love for his friends and family earned him the love and respect of many, his family said. He will be sorely missed.

He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Marta Zenger; four children, Adam (Michelle), Anne (Bil Rosky), Eloise (Stacy Arnold), Nico (Michelle Muri); mother, Mildred Zenger; brother, Don and Debbie Zenger; and granddaughters, Amelia and Alaina.

In lieu of flowers, send memorials to the Northshore YMCA Partners with Youth Program, 11811 NE 195th St., Bothell, WA 98011, or a youth charity of your choosing.

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