Aloizy Kuchta passed away Nov. 29, 2010. Known by most as "Big Al," he will be remembered fondly for his sense of humor and bone-crushing handshake.
Kuchta was born in Zakopane, Poland on Dec. 8, 1922. He joined the Polish Army as a teenager and was captured in 1939 by the Germans during the occupation. They sent him to the town of Bischosfhofen in Austria as a slave laborer. During that time he and other slaves were cutting down trees and one hit a power line. The Germans accused them of sabotage and they were sent to a prison camp in Innsbruck. Some prisoners did not survive.
After the war, he went to work in Germany for the U.S. Army as a driver.
He immigrated to the U.S. in 1952, eventually making his way to Alaska.
Kuchta resided in Juneau for more than 56 years. He was a commercial fisherman and gold miner and had the distinction of being the World Champion Gold Panner for several years during the 1970s and 1980s. He had many trophies to show from that time, along with commendations from Gov. Jay Hammond. He leaves behind a son, Friedrich Kuchta and a granddaughter Melinda Kuchta both of Germany, along with grandson Benjamin Kuchta and many dear friends here in Juneau.
His family said he was generous, thoughtful, loving and loved and he will be greatly missed.
There will be a mass of remembrance at the Cathedral of the Nativity at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. The public is invited to attend.