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Val Anderson was born in Seward, Alaska in 1926, and raised on his family's homestead on Caribou Island in Skilak Lake. His father was a big game hunting guide in the area. Val moved to Cooper Landing in 1940, when he was fourteen years old, after his mother passed away. He served in the Army from 1944 to 1946 and was stationed at Shemya Island in the Aleutians Islands. He worked for the Alaska Road Commission on the road to Kenai, as a fisherman in Cook Inlet, and as a longshoreman for the Alaska Railroad in Seward from 1951 to 1985. Val married his wife, Jean, in 1953 and they raised three children.