On Tuesday, 12 descendants of Thomas Corwin Mendenhall - the meteorologist our local glacier is named after - will be coming to Juneau on a Holland America cruise.
George and Juanita Mendenhall are celebrating their 50th anniversary and bringing their three kids and respective families with them.
"My husband is a distant relative of Charles Mendenhall," Juanita Mendenhall said. Charles Mendenhall is the father of Thomas Corwin. "He has traced the family line back 11 generations and it clearly shows a connection in a line of cousins."
The Mendenhall's first visited Juneau in 1993, when George and his brother brought their mother on a cruise for her 80th birthday.
"The highlight for all five of us then was going up onto the glacier as well as seeing the name Mendenhall everywhere in Juneau," Mendenhall said. "George and I have traveled extensively around the world over many years and that trip stands out as the best one we ever took."
So for their golden anniversary, they're returning to Alaska with the kids and grandkids.
George and Juanita were married in Denver, Colo. on Aug. 23, 1959. They met after a church service years before when they both discovered they were newsletter editors for different church districts.
After marrying, the Mendenhall's moved east.
"He was a young pastor at the time we were married and our first pastorate was in Pennville, Indiana, a very small rural Indiana community where our three children were born," Mendenhall said. " After leaving Pennville several years later we had no more children, so we decided kids came from the drinking water in Pennville."
During their time in Pennville, George also worked as a college professor to support his family. He eventually went on to earn his doctorate.
Besides being a pastor and a professor, George also became interested in computers anad started his own business, Integrated Business Systems and Services, where they use a special software called "Synapse" to track everything from unaccompanied minors to medical equipment.
Juanita, on the other hand, worked as a Family and Consumer Science Teacher for two years in Ind. and was the executive director of the Teen Health Promotion Coalition for 14 years in South Carolina. She has also volunteered extensively which allowed her to travel the world.
Accompaning the Mendenhall's on their trip, is their eldest daughter Beccie and her husband Howard Weiss or Half Moon Bay, Calif. Beccie is a biomedical engineer and a manager for Philips International Medical Equipment Divison world wide. Howard works as a wine distributor.
Their second youngest, Ronda Dix, a Family and Consumer Science teacher in Fort Wayne, Ind., also is coming, bringing her three children: Andrew, 18, Janessa, 17, and Derrion, 7. Her husband, Dennis, was unable to come.
Rounding out the group is their son, Grady Mendenhall, and his wife, Paula, complete with children Allison, 15, and Aaron, 12. Grady works as a international pilot for Delta Airlines, and Paula works at ExxonMobile headquarters in Fairfax, Va.
While Mendenhall doesn't think they'll be able to fly all 12 of them on top of the glacier while in Juneau because of the expense, seeing the glacier from the visitor center area will be the main thing they hope to accomplish while in Juneau. They also plan on taking an around town tour, but haven't prepurchased anything to leave their options open for anything that strikes their interest.
After the cruise, the Mendenhall's will be continuing up to Denali National Park.
"I think (visiting Juneau) is hoping to be the highlight of our trip," Mendenhall said. "I think our grandchildren will be amazed at how Mendenhall is everywhere in Juneau, on the streets and the mall."
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