Thomas Allen Kjera
Thomas Allen Kjera passed away on July 30, 2019. Tom was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, and left this world while in Kodiak, 62 years later. He spent the last 26 years in Kodiak where his children spent their early years and where he spent his working time at the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium as its Technical Director.
Early on, Tom knew he wanted to work in the theatre and attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks where he took all the theatre classes needed for a theatre major. He was very active in the UAF theatre department, building props, working on sound and lighting, and doing whatever needed to be done to ensure a good performance. In Fairbanks, he was a fixture at the Pantages Theatre, worked at the Palace Saloon Theater, was instrumental in the early years of the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, volunteered with the Fairbanks Drama Association and the Fairbanks Concert Association, and worked with many other arts organizations. His passion for the theatre could be seen in many ways, including his capacity to teach students “the ropes” and safety around the theatre. Tom was respected by those he worked with as well as theatre people across the state, and across the country, for his willingness to lend a hand or share his experience.
Even though his father wanted him to get a “real job,” Tom made his way in the theatre world. Tom spent many years as technical director at Hering Auditorium in Fairbanks, Alaska. He lived in Fairbanks up to 1993, when he and his family moved to Kodiak, where he would spend the next 25 years at the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium, as its technical director; and from where he recently retired. Tom was a fixture in Kodiak and especially in the arts community where very little occurred without his knowledge and input; a legacy that lives on in his daughter who took over his job after he retired.
In addition to his theatre work, Tom loved being on the water. Whether sailing on Harding Lake (outside of Fairbanks) or kayaking with friends around the Kodiak coastline, he loved being in nature and enjoying its beauty.
Tom was a self-made man who constantly worked to improve his craft, but who also had a passion for building boats. He was one of those people who could not only “take something apart, but was able to put it back together,” the right way.
Tom is survived by his children; Leonard Kjera, Hilary Kjera and her husband Gram Hood, and Ethan Kjera; his former wife, Ann Kjera; his brothers and their wives, Ed and Charlene Heath and Andrew and Dolly Kjera of Fairbanks, and his sister Kathy Lewis, of North Carolina; as well as sisters-in-law Sherry Heath and Vivian Norris; many nieces, nephews, and cousins; and his brother-in-law Wayne Halvarson.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Edwin and Betty Kjera, his brothers Patrick Heath and John Heath, and his friend Jim Aiken.
Tom was loved by his family and many friends and there is “a hole where he used to be, and he will be greatly missed by us and by the community.” Memorials for Tom will be held in Fairbanks, Sept. 7, 2 p.m. at the family’s Harding Lake property, and in Kodiak, Sept. 15, 2 p.m. at the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium.
Condolences and correspondence may be sent to the family in care of Hilary Kjera, PO Box 2161, Kodiak, AK 99615. In lieu of flowers, please donate in his name to the Kodiak Arts Council or the Fairbanks Drama Association.