Homer Alaska - Obituaries

Story last updated at 2:39 PM on Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Walter Wallace Jackinsky, Jr.


Walter Wallace Jackinsky, Jr.

May 19, 1916-May 6, 2012

Walter Wallace Jackinsky Jr., 95, died peacefully with his daughters by his side at his home in Homer May 6, 2012.

Walter was born in Ninilchik May 19, 1916, to Mary Oskolkoff, a member of one of Ninilchiks founding families, and Walter Jackinsky Sr., originally from Russia.

He finished the ninth grade in Ninilchik in 1932, and earned his high school diploma (GED) more than 30 years later, having promised his youngest daughter that if she would complete her high school studies he would, too.

By his mid-40s, Walter had successfully tackled half a dozen different occupations, from Bristol Bay fishing in the days of open dories to owning and operating Jackinskys Ranch, a popular gathering place in Ninilchik.

As boys, he and his older brother, Edward, were hired to dig clams at Polly Creek on the west side of Cook Inlet; a few years later Walter worked with the colonists in the Matanuska Valley. In the early 1940s, as the United States was entering World War II, he helped build runways at Elmendorf Air Force Base. Although he earned a private pilots license in 1938, he was drawn to the sea and joined the Merchant Marines during the war. His service aboard a Liberty Ship ended when the ship struck a mine in Manila Bay, killing two fellow crewmen.

Walter was an enthusiastic fisherman, whether commercially or as part of the crowd at the Nick Dudiak Fishing Lagoon on the Homer Spit. He loved music and was an excellent dancer, and his favorite song was Fishermans Prayer, recorded by Ninilchik songwriter Butch Leman. But he was probably best known for the career he embarked on in the second half of his life.

In January 1963, he went to work for the then-new Alaska Marine Highway System as an ordinary seaman. In rapid order he advanced to able-bodied seaman, for the inaugural run of the M/V Malaspina, then to mate, inland master and master. After 34 years with AHMS, the last 17 as master of the M/V Bartlett based in Prince William Sound, he retired in 1997 as senior captain and honorary commodore of the entire fleet.

Walter took a round-the-world trip via Pan American Airways in 1980, and the urge to travel never left him. In retirement, he continued to journey to far-off places. He most enjoyed his time in Russia, whether the busy streets of Moscow or among the bear hunters of the Kamchatka Peninsula. His ready smile and genuine interest in other people enabled him to develop long-lasting friendships all over the world.

He had to be persuaded to talk about himself for a biography published in 2004. The title of the book, Any Tonnage, Any Ocean, by Jacquelin Benson Pels, refers to his master mariners license, but reflects his open-arms approach to life as well.

All of us who sailed for the Captain are better people for knowing him, wrote a member of the Bartlett crew on learning of Walters death. Weve gained knowledge of the sea and the world in general that so many people search for forever. Smile. He would want us to.

Walter Jackinsky Jr. was preceded in death by his brothers Edward and Adolf; sisters Mauria and Margaret Jackie Jackinsky Pearl; daughter Vonnie and son Adolf Duffy from his first marriage to Marie Von Scheele, also deceased; and his second wife, Alice McKibben Jackinsky.

He is survived by his sister Cora Jackinsky Cook of Fairbanks, half-sisters Barbara Redmond of Wasilla and Clara Robinson of Anchorage, and half-brother George Jackinsky of Kasilof. He also leaves daughter Risa Jackinsky of Homer, daughter and son-in-law McKibben Jackinsky and Sandy Mazen of Homer and Ninilchik, son and daughter-in-law Shawn and Naomi Jackinsky of Anchorage; numerous grand, great-grand, and great-great-grandchildren; nieces and nephews; and friends everywhere.

Walters request was that his ashes be scattered on the waters of Cook Inlet.

A celebration of his life will be held at the campground shelter near the Nick Dudiak Lagoon at 2 p.m. on June 10.

Friends who wish to do so are encouraged to contribute to Hospice of Homer, P.O. Box 4174, Homer, AK 99603.