Sept 4, 1917 - Jan 9, 2011
Longtime Alaskan Oscar Watsjold, 93, died Sunday Jan. 9, 2011 at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, of complications caused by Alzheimer's disease.
A private memorial service will be held Saturday at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Seward, followed by a public celebration of life at 2:30 p.m. at the Alaska Railroad Terminal, Port Avenue (next to the Cruise Ship Dock) in Seward.
Oscar was born Sept. 4, 1917, in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Oscar G. and Gudren Watsjold.
In 1919, the family moved back to their home in Bergen, Norway, where they lived until 1929, when they relocated to McCarthy. There they owned and operated a hardware/grocery store until the late 1930s.
In 1939, Oscar moved to Seward, where he raised his three children, Stanley, David and Linda, with his first wife, Inger.
From 1942 through 1947, Oscar served with the Alaska Territorial Guard, protecting Seward from enemy invasion during World War II.
On Dec. 9, 1966, Oscar married Nell Mainard, with whom he shared his remaining years in Seward.
Oscar's life was built on hard work and commitment to family and community. His entrepreneurial ventures in Seward included a butcher shop in the 1940s, and a home oil delivery company, Watsjold's Fuel, which he owned and operated into the 1970s.
Oscar was most proud of his service with the Seward Volunteer Fire Department, which began in 1941 and continued through 2009, an "astonishing 69 years of service to the community." Oscar was chief of the Volunteer Fire Department from 1962 until 1982. Oscar was the Fire Chief in Seward during the 1964 earthquake that destroyed much of the city and other parts of the state. He played a major part in the reconstruction of the city and the building of the fire department. While he retired as chief in 1982, at the age of 65, his active involvement with the department and his fellow firefighters continued well into his 80s, and he remained a volunteer until his death.
He has been a member of the Kenai Chiefs Association and is a life member of the Alaska Fire Chiefs Association, as well a member of the Alaska State Firefighters Association. In 1992, Oscar was awarded the Del Moffit Firefighter of the Year Award by the Alaska State Firefighters Association.
"With Oscar's passing, we have lost a significant and beloved member of our department, the likes of which I doubt we will see again," said Dave Squires, Fire Chief, Seward Volunteer Fire Department.
After retirement from the Fire Department, Oscar enjoyed volunteer work. He especially enjoyed time spent with special needs youth, whom he taught to bowl, as well as annual volunteer work with the Seward Volunteer Fire Department's Angel Tree Program. Additionally, Oscar was a charter member of Elks Lodge #1773 and former president and member of Pioneers of Alaska, Igloo 9.
Oscar is survived by his wife, the love of his life, Nell; children and spouses, Stan and Sally Watsjold of Nancy Lake, Linda and Mike Brown of Anchorage, David and Mary Watsjold of Anchorage, Andy and Tami Mainard of Florida, and Sherry and David Borer of Anchorage; 16 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren; as well as his former wife and dear friend, Inger, and her husband, Charlie Ricci; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Oscar was predeceased by parents Oscar and Gudren Watsjold; his sister, Stella, who lived in Bergen, Norway; and his brother, John, who lived in Anchorage.
Memorial donations in Oscar's honor can be made to; St. Peter's Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 676, Seward, AK 99664 or; the Seward Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 832, Seward, AK 99664.
The family would like to thank the staffs at All About Care Assisted Living and Providence Hospital for the care they gave Oscar during the last months of his life.