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The Alaska Communities of Memory Project was a statewide effort from 1994-1996 funded by the Alaska Humanities Forum to provide an opportunity for people in communities around Alaska to share memories of their community and to reflect on what made their community special. These gatherings were held in Bethel, Fairbanks, Homer, Juneau, Kenai-Soldotna, Kotzebue, Nome, Unalaska, and Wasilla.
This Homer Communities of Memory Project Jukebox, created in 2009, was funded by the Alaska Humanities Forum, and highlights the gathering at Land's End Resort in Homer, Alaska on April 26 & 27, 1996 where people came together to share stories and talk about what makes Homer so special and appealing to its residents. There were three sessions of storytelling, with each covering a different theme: "Tales of the Sea" related to fishing; "One Hundred Years of Endurance" focused on early homesteading; and "Community Ties" was about what brings the community together, the kind of place it is, and why it is important. A selection of stories from these two days are presented below. You can view a list of all the participants by going to the Session Details page. There were also seven informal brown-bag lunch gatherings held around town from January to April 1996 that were recorded and are available at the Pratt Museum Archives in Homer. In 2012, the Homer Communities of Memory Project Jukebox was upgraded from its original HTML format to Drupal. The information in this project reflects the context of the original creation date. Some information may now be out of date.
Thanks to the participants and their families for allowing us to share these stories and for providing photographs. Additional photos related to Homer can be found in the Alaska Digital Archives.
Ralph Broshes moved to Homer, Alaska in 1973, and as one of the first veterinarians there began his practice out of his house. He built a larger clinic in 1984, and currently has a successful business that offers an important service for the people and animals of Homer.
Marcee Gray was born in the Midwest, but fell in love with Homer when she came to Alaska. Despite having no background in boats or fishing, she got a job as a cook on commercial fishing boats in the Bering Sea and the Aleutian Islands. She saw it as an opportunity to see something new.
Mark Marette came to Homer, Alaska in 1980, after searching in other parts of the United States for a place where he could live with his horses and be in a beautiful setting. He eventually started his own horseback riding business, Trails End Horse Adventures.
Sandy Miller came to Homer with her family in 1956 and grew up there. She raised her children in Homer and currently works in hospice, helping people in their time of need.
Bob Moore came to Homer, Alaska in 1969, and worked in the village of Nikolaevsk as their first teacher. At the time, there was no road to this Old Believers community, so he carried his supplies while walking forty minutes on a trail through the woods. He taught in Nikolaevsk for twenty-three years, and saw how it grew and changed.
Raised in Michigan, Don Ronda first came to Homer, Alaska in 1956 as a visitor, but was so enamored with the town and the people that he soon returned to live there. He obtained his teaching degree at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, got a job teaching in the village of Naknek, and then in 1962 became the principal of Homer High School. He served on the Homer City Council, the Homer Advisory Planning Commission, and the Port and Harbor Commission. He was a commercial fisherman, and helped... Read More
When Dave Seaman came to Homer, Alaska, he lived in a tent on the Homer Spit and worked at Land’s End Resort. He was soon given the opportunity to live in a remote cabin on Yukon Island for the winter. He has worked various jobs in Homer, including commercial fishing, logging, tendering, stevedoring, shrimp fishing, and boat building. From all these experiences, he has learned a thing or two about the weather and its effect on small boats in Kachemak Bay, and he loves living in Homer.
Originally from Wisconsin, Gert Seekins came to Homer, Alaska in 1969 when her husband was offered a job as the assistant pastor at the Christian Community Church. She worked at the cannery when they first arrived in Homer, but soon moved on to other business opportunities. She and her husband started the first bed and breakfast in Homer, they converted an old building into a boarding house, they had a tour business, they offered fishing charters, and they had an accommodation referral... Read More
Born in Paradise, California in 1928, Diana Tillion came to Alaska in 1939 when her stepfather got a job working at Independence Mine near Palmer. The family moved to Homer in 1942 when World War II made Anchorage an unpleasant place to live. In 1952, Diana married her husband, Clem, who was a fisherman. They lived in Halibut Cove, on the south side of Kachemak Bay across from Homer until Clem was elected to the State House as a representative for the Kenai Peninsula. They then lived in... Read More
Carolyn Turkington came to Homer, Alaska in 1949 with her new husband, Bob. They brought a saw mill with them, so they immediately found work helping to build “Hill Top Hideaway” lodge, houses, and roads. They eventually got involved in transportation, by running a taxi business, and then operating a school bus business for eighteen years. For more about Carolyn Turkington, see her obituary in the Homer News... Read More
Lillian Walker was Yup'ik and born in 1924 to Katherine Bradley and Gabriel Kootok in Unalakleet, Alaska. She lived in Kaltag from age four to seven, then her stepfather, Fred LaBelle, moved the family to a mink farm located between Unalakleet and Kaltag. When she was thirteen years old she was sent to the Holy Cross Mission for school in Holy Cross, Alaska. She... Read More
Wilma Williams first came to Alaska in 1926 when she was eighteen months old when her father headed north for work. They ended up in Seldovia where he became a fisherman. After having to return to the Lower 48 because of her mother’s health, Wilma finally returned to Homer in 1941, and worked in Anchorage when the soldiers were there during World War II. After Wilma was married, she and her husband helped to build the road and lived in a Wanigan in Homer. She’s written two books about her... Read More