Peter Larsen Jr.
Peter Larsen Jr. passed away on Sunday, August 26, 2018. At his last breath, a beautiful and brilliant rainbow adorned the skies of Nome. It was if he was showing us, he is okay now.
Pete was born 83 years ago to Peter Larsen Sr. and Mildred Larsen.
Peter attended elementary school in Nome and graduated from Nome High in1953. He enjoyed playing basketball and continued to love basketball through his whole life.
He served with the United States Army Alaska from 1956 to 1958. He received an honorable discharge.
In 1978 Pete met the love of his life Helen. Together they raised four children Elizabeth, Bob, Cynthia and Helen. Although together for over thirty years, in 2006 they officially were married in a private ceremony in their family home. Together they enjoyed camping, fishing, hunting, just about anything to do with a subsistence way of life. He often hunted with local friends, the late Sam Kakik and Wes Perkins and other family and friends. Pete often took visiting labor union guys out to his camp to share in setting the fish net. He loved being outdoors in the country.
Pete spent most of his lifetime devoted to the Laborer’s Local 942. He began his career as a laborer in the early 1960’s, working various construction jobs in the Nome area. He took his first dispatch in 1966. Later, in 1994 he became the Nome area Union Steward. He did this until 2013. He was very well known in the Bering Strait region for accessing programs for job training, and finding funding and encouraging the involvement of the young local kids of Nome and surrounding villages. He coordinated with local villages to execute jobs for local hire.
Often times folks would show up at his home untimely during his dinner to pay dues. Although he always emphasized the importance of paying dues on time to his guys, he would give them a piece of his mind for interrupting his supper and still offer them dinner as well. He was a strong outspoken advocate for the local hiring practices and with his leadership many, many young folks were trained and hired for local work. He had day-to-day involvement with union projects as he served his Union and Union members earnestly. His involvement with local craft was widespread throughout the Seward Peninsula. With years and years of his guidance he was influential in the success to attract, motivate, develop and retain talented local workers. He was recognized in 1994 for his leadership role in the IT Construction project in Nome. The project manager said, “I have learned to listen carefully to his recommendations. Mr. Larsen’s active involvement in the execution has contributed significantly to the success of the project”. Over the last 20 years, Pete was very instrumental in setting up and organizing the training programs for local asbestos removal, as well as other trainings for local union guys. He made sure there were more than enough trained guys/gals to provide a big local applicant pool. There wasn’t a day he didn’t advocate for local hire. He was famous for his words, “Get your green apes on, get to work!!”
He held strong work ethics and promoted those same values to each new hire, and was not shy about sharing that. His children learned at a young age by his example, the true meaning of work and how important it is to be on time, and to be clean. He took great pride in his work and he expected and demanded the same from the people around him.
In 2006 he was recognized by the American Federation of Labor, Congress of Industrial Organization of Alaska for a lifetime of service to the labor movement.
Through the years he served on boards of directors for multiple corporations and entities. Pete served on the first Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation board from 1992 to 1996. He served as Sergeant-at-arms. He also contributed to countless fisheries meetings and advocated on behalf of local fishermen. He served on the council for Nome Eskimo Community as well as the Arctic Native Brotherhood board. Pete joined the Nome Volunteer Fire Department in the 1980’s and continued to be a public servant for them for over 20 years. He continued to actively support the volunteers even after retirement. At the annual fireman’s carnival, he manned the ticket booth. With his cantankerous attitude, and sense of humor he sold lots of tickets and made everyone laugh while doing it.
He volunteered for many, many years at the Lonnie O’Connor Iditarod Basketball Tournament. He, together with his wife Helen, would sit at the front table where people paid to get in, and was known to holler loudly to any folks standing in his way of the basketball games. Let’s just say people, players and everyone would know not to stand in his way. He may be the only person to have almost every single LOIBC Tourney t-shirt. Each year that he volunteered, he would get 20 shirts and that became a big part of his comfy attire. He is remembered by always wearing a different colored LOIBC t-shirt, as well as Nome Volunteer Fire Department shirts, too. A simple man who took pride in everything he did and got involved with. He also acquired a large collection of hats, which he proudly displayed at his family home. He received hats from people that he met with through his various work. Although he had an entire wall of hats, his favorite hat, which most often he was seen in, is his Labor Union 942 hat. He was most proud of those hats. He was also a big fan of the union stickers, which he loved to hand out and adorn on his truck, four-wheeler, boat and everything. You would know that his presence was strong with these union stickers because he stuck them everywhere.
Pete loved Nome and loved being outdoors in the country. He spent a lot time at his camp, together with his wife Helen they enjoyed time with their kids and later grandkids setting their fish net and camping with family at what they called Solomon fish camp. His grandkids were the light in his life. He was a big influence in his grandkids lives. Teaching them many things from their early childhood of riding a bike, tying their shoes, learning to go fishing, to job hunting. He bragged about his grandkids and they bragged about their Papa Pete. Mutually the love was strong. He loved his family. Family was important to him. He instilled discipline and love to his children. He consistently worked long and hard for many years and taught his kids to work hard.
About five years ago, Pete started to show symptoms of dementia. But, Pete continued to be a strong man, as it was his mind that the disease progressively took away. The family is thankful Pete’s struggle is over, and that he is at peace and with family that have gone on. We are also thankful for the care, and love given to him by the staff at QCC-Quyanna Care Center. We were comforted with his familiar gruff voice and laughter until the last couple of weeks of his life. For he has finished the race, and the world is a better place because of him.
His boisterous, cantankerous and spunk will greatly be missed by all. He was one of a kind. A big man with a big heart.
Pete is survived by his wife of more than 40 years Helen, their children: Elizabeth Johnson, Bob Curran, Cynthia Gray and Helen Bohn. His grandchildren Derek Shane, Deilah, Amy, Nicole, David, Alex, Amber, Brewster, Bronson, Bella and great grandchildren Autumn and Tristan. His sister Vivian Aspon; and many nieces and nephews.