During the summer of 1984, my family and I were flown in a single-engine, Piper, tail-dragger plane from Merrill Field in Anchorage to a dirt runway in Port Alsworth. Our excellent pilot was in his late teens or early twenties and a member of the Alsworth family. The Alsworths were excited because they were soon getting a town telephone system for the first time. An older Alsworth flew us in a float plane to the upper and larger of the two Twin Lakes. We set up our tent next to the mouth of a stream that flowed into the lake. The following morning, we glassed a glint on the lake and a saw a man in a canoe paddling toward us. That man was Dick Proenneke.
Dick brought each of us a large sourdough pancake with peanut butter rolled inside. He took us up a steep mountain trail to an empty bear’s den near the mountain’s high summit. I was 40, a marathon-runner, in good shape. I couldn’t keep up with Dick, who, we believe was 72 at the time. He politely and repeatedly stopped to pick and munch on blueberries — to allow us to catch up, winded.
Maggie was the back-country National Park Ranger. She packed a gun to protect herself from poachers. The following day, Maggie paddled across to bring us a large bottle of blueberries that she and Dick had picked for us.
We learned from Dick that he loved chocolate. For several years, we sent him a large carton filled with boxes of Hawaiian macadamia nut chocolates. The cartons were marked, “Do Not Open Until Xmas.”
We have very fond memories of Dick. He was a one-of-kind, special, loving gentle man.
The Dick Quinn Family