Story last updated at 4:46 p.m. Thursday, October 17, 2002

Anchor Point mourns death of homesteader
by Chris Bernard
Staff Writer

Larry Clendenen, an Anchor Point homesteader who came to Alaska in the 1940s, died last week at age 79.

He first came to Alaska as a serviceman in the U.S. Army in the early 1940s, and moved to Anchor Point with his wife, Inez, in 1947. Clendenen returned to Oregon and convinced his parents, Bill and Verna, to join them.

In 1952, the two Clendenen families and their friends, George "Lefty" Howard, his wife, Jeanne, and their son, John, 5, traveled up the Alaska Highway to homestead in Anchor Point. They towed all their belongings, two large cook stoves, a sawmill and a Cat, Jeanne said.

"We got to the Canadian border, which we were hoping to reach before it closed, and it had closed the day before," she said. "They closed it to make road repairs. Bill Clendenen said, 'Okay, fine, we'll just park here and wait until spring.' They said they didn't want us sticking around there all winter, so they let us go ahead."

It took the caravan 31 days to travel about 3,500 miles, she said, but finally the families reached Anchor Point. Larry Clendenen and Lefty Howard set up the sawmill, and Inez and Jeanne grew potatoes.

"Alaska was very good to us," Jeanne said. "All of us, Larry and Inez and me and Lefty, we were all like brothers and sisters. Larry was naturally a very, very good guy. Just a great person."

Born in Downy, Calif., in 1923, Clendenen served in France and Germany during the European Theater, and was discharged honorably in 1945.

In Anchor Point, Clendenen worked in construction, as a guide outfitter, saddle-maker and commercial fisherman, and retired from fishing in 1983. A member of the Pioneers of Alaska, Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce, Anchor Point Senior Citizens, and American Veterans, he also participated in the rodeo, Anchorage Fur Rendezvous and Anchor Point dog racing.

"He was a man with a big heart," said friend Earl Johnson. "We've lived in the same area here for 50 years. He was willing to help anybody, any way. He was a good neighbor."

Chris Bernard can be reached at cbernard@homer-news.com.

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