Donald A. Pontti
Donald Alexander Pontti, aged 90, passed away in his sleep peacefully at home in Kodiak on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. Born in Ishpeming, Michigan, to Jarl Alexander and Martha Holma Pontti, Don attended Jackson High School and Jackson Junior College before enlisting in the U.S. Army, serving as a master sergeant (E-7) in the Korean War as a tank commander.
Upon discharge from the Army, Don continued taking college classes, working nights and weekends, playing independent football with the Jackson Lions, learning to fly, and purchasing his own Piper Cub. He attended Northern Michigan University, lettered in football and graduated with a B.S. in education, with a major in geography and minors in biology, English and history.
Don attended graduate school at Michigan State University for geography while working and teaching high school English, and university-level geography at NMU. A summer on the Juneau Ice Field at a Glaciology Field Camp introduced him to Alaska. He then worked for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs teaching in the Alaskan villages of Kasigluk, Chalkyitsik and Unalakleet, where he married Jeanne W. Pontti.
Don and Jeanne moved to Fairbanks and started a family, where Don attended graduate school in education at the University of Alaska. They lived for over 20 years in Fairbanks, where Don worked as a carpenter specializing in log cabin construction, and living on a 40-acre homestead in Goldstream Valley, and later in town on Fairbanks Street. They then spent eight years in
Ketchikan, where Don was employed at the Ketchikan Pulp Mill as a carpenter until they moved to Kodiak in 1997.
Until recent years, Don was a prolific reader. He was a lifetime member of the VFW and enjoyed watching the activity in the boat harbor, family gatherings and good champagne.
Don was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Evelyn Elmore. He is survived by his wife, Jeanne of Kodiak, sister Lorraine Kreske and family, and brother Jim (Judy) Pequet of Michigan, his son Alexander (Stephanie), and grandsons Levi and Solomon Pontti of Portland, Maine, and daughter Libby (Jim), and granddaughters Rosemary, Frances and Janie Eufemio of Kodiak.
The family would like to express special thanks to Dr. Steve Smith, Dr. Evan Jones and Ella Santiago for their care and compassion during this time.