Walter Kirkness

Posted: Thursday, November 11, 2004

Former longtime Juneau resident Walter Kirkness died in Seattle on Nov. 6, 2004.

He was born Aug. 9, 1920. He graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in fisheries. He was a U.S. Marine Corps captain and served in the Pacific during World War II. At the end of the war, he returned to Seattle and worked for the Washington State Department of Fisheries, until he was hired by C.L. Anderson, director of the newly created Alaska Department of Fisheries in 1950. Along with Robert Parker, he was one of the first employees. In 1961, Gov. William Egan appointed Walter as the Commissioner of Fish and Game, a job he held until 1967. His family and friends said, "His integrity and honestly were hallmarks of his administration. He was well-respected and admired by all those who worked with him, friend or adversary. Alaska was his home and always held a special place in his heart."

After 1967, he worked for the Department of Interior and NOAA, managing the Pribilofs Fur Seal Program prior to his retirement in 1983. In retirement, he enjoyed his garden, swimming and reading.

His family says, "He had a long, well-lived life. He will be remembered for his sweet disposition and his infectious laugh."

He is survived by his wife, Marjorie Kirkness of Seattle; his daughter, Susan Kirkness of Juneau; and son, Mark Kirkness of San Diego, Calif.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 11, at Evergreen-Washelli Funeral Home in Seattle. An on-line memorial book is available to sign at

Memorial donations may be made to Hospice of Seattle or a charity of choice.

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