Lahja 'Ike' Puustinen

Posted: Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Juneau resident Lahja "Ike" Puustinen, 98, died July 22, 2006, at Wildflower Court.

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He was born on Oct. 8, 1907, to Paavo and Riika Puustinen in Svensen, Ore., on the family homestead.

After a year at Oregon State College, he took an Alaska Steamship headed for Alaska, planning to attend the Bureau of Mines School in Fairbanks. He got off in Juneau, at the invitation of a friend, and never left.

He married Rosella Furuness in 1939 in Juneau. They had four children. He worked in the Alaska-Juneau Mine until shorting before it closed. Then he commercial fished, first on the Fox, then the Julia D., until he retired in 1980, handing the boat over to his oldest son, Arvid.

After retiring, he enjoyed picnics and spending many hours with his children and son-in-law prospecting for gold in the Thane area. He would take home gold-bearing rock and, using a homemade rock crusher, was able to pan the gold. After 20-plus years he accumulated enough gold to make huge nuggets for each of his children.

"All who met Ike enjoyed listening to his tales of growing up on the farm and gillnetting on the Columbia River; his various, and often dangerous, jobs at the A-J Mine; and his commercial fishing exploits," said family members. "Many remember him as being the first boat out of the harbor in the mornings and the first back in the evenings."

He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, three brothers and two sisters.

He is survived by his daughter, Audrey Acord and her husband, Lonnie, of Juneau; son, Arvid Puustinen, of Hoonah; son, Arnold Puustinen and his wife, Sharon, of Juneau; son Arthur Puustinen, of Juneau; four grandchildren; one great granddaughter; and many nieces and nephews.

The family wishes to thank all the special caregivers at Wildflower Court for the great care, friendship and love they gave Ike over the past few years.

At his request, there will be no memorial service. His ashes will be spread at the family homestead in Svensen. Donations in his memory may be made to a charity of choice. Family may be contacted at 1002 B. St., Juneau, AK, 99801.

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