Paul Robert Emerson

Posted: Sunday, June 20, 2004

Juneau resident Paul Robert Emerson, 89, died June 8, 2004, in Juneau.

He was born in 1914 in Boston, Mass., the youngest of three children. He left school in 11th grade to help support his mother, but he was a prolific reader and continued to educate himself. He went to sea in 1936, sailing from Labrador to Argentina in the merchant marine. He came ashore and took up carpentry in 1940. World War II sent him back to sea in February 1942, sailing in a convoy to run the German blockade and deliver munitions to Murmansk, Russia. He then joined the US Navy where he trained salvage divers in underwater carpentry and seaman's skills. He was awarded the Atlantic War Zone Bar and the Merchant Marine Combat Bar.

After the war he worked as a carpenter, and also as a correspondent for the Daily World. He and his first wife moved from the East Coast to Washington state in 1952. They moved to Seattle in 1958 where he assumed duties as editor for the northwest edition of the Peoples World, a position he held for 10 years. He remarried in 1970 and took his new wife and step children to live in Cuba, where he served as a correspondent and as an English language editor for Radio Havana. They returned to Seattle where he worked in carpentry and union organizing until he moved to Juneau in 1976.

He lived in Juneau 28 years. He was active in many community organizations, including the Mountainview Tenants Council, the Carpenters Union, Gastineau Historical Society, and Juneau Common Ground. In Juneau he worked first as a carpenter, then with the weatherization program for Southeast Alaska Community Action Program, and finally tending plants in commercial buildings, hauling chlorine-free water from Gold Creek.

He was an avid hiker and activist in trail conservation with Juneau Trail Mix, SAGA, and Taku Conservation Society. He was a hiker and ski leader for Juneau Parks and Recreation, learned to ski at age 65, and hiked the Chilkoot Trail three times between ages 69 and 75. He co-authored the historical Perseverance Trail Guide and edited the book 90 Short Walks Around Juneau.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a sister; a brother; a stepdaughter; his first wife, Ruth Emerson; and his second wife, Marjorie H. Rabbitt, who died in Juneau in 1979.

He is survived by three stepchildren, Rebecca, Tom, and John Rabbitt of Seattle, Wash.; his stepgrandson, Patrice Givens; and numerous nieces and nephews in Massachusetts as well as many friends worldwide.

A potluck dinner and celebration of his life will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, July 23 at the Auke Recreation Area.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Trail Mix, (P.O. Box 35693, Juneau,, AK 99803) or KTOO Alternative Radio (360 Egan Drive, Juneau, AK 99801). Eulogies may be sent in care of Pam Finley, 820 Sixth St. 99801, Juneau, AK 99801. For more information call Mary Lou King at 789-7540.

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