Obituary: William Dennis Eastaugh, 72


William Dennis Eastaugh

William Dennis Eastaugh

1941- 2013

William Dennis Eastaugh died quietly at Wrangell Medical Center very early Tuesday morning, March 19, 2013.

He was born in Wrangell at the old Bishop Rowe Hospital on August 25, 1941 and, as it happened, was the very first cesarean delivery ever in Wrangell.

He attended grade school in the big old white schoolhouse that stood next to our library.

The family lived on Greif Street in the old pink house opposite the Roman Catholic Church. As with many young boys, Dennis enjoyed tinkering with bicycles, taking them all apart to see just how things work and leaving pieces scattered across the yard, much to the chagrin of his father, Bill Eastaugh.

In his early years, as boys will, Dennis started to grow. How proud he was to discover one fine day that he was actually taller than a girl. A milestone moment! And the girl was Judy Moore (Baker), a schoolmate.

Dennis graduated from Wrangell High School, class of 1959, shortly after Alaska attained statehood.

He spent four years and four months in service to his country, earning the rank of Fireman First Class in the United States Navy. His home port between trips to Vietnam was San Diego.

Except for a brief stint at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and time in the military, Dennis spent his entire life in Wrangell, working through the years in various capacities: at canneries, in the powerhouse of the six mile sawmill, at the City light plant, driving cab (and speaking affectionately of the elderly Native ladies whom he chauffeured), working his Highfield Electronics shop, doing the rudiments of oyster farming in the Blashke Islands of Clarence Strait, working for the USFS at the old Wrangell Institute (Native boarding school), and eventually taking over the family hardware store (Alaskan Homes Company) after his father’s death in 1979. For nearly twenty-two years and till his death, Dennis worked at Benjamin’s Store/Bobs’ IGA taking pride in the facility.

One of Dennis’ greatest joys in life was his love of books and reading. His very favorite place in the whole wide world was his easy chair with some of Southeast Alaska’s most spectacular scenery to look out at, a tall stack of books and a mug of hot coffee. For Dennis, this was life at its best.

And what did Dennis read? Certainly lots and definitely NOT fluff. He never shied away from heavy material that, frankly, many of us would find dry, complex and boring.

Dennis was definitely an unusual combination qualifying for MENSA while, at the same time, maxing out many machines in the weight room.

The original site of The Wrangell Sentinel newspaper was, what is now, 312 Front Street in Wrangell. The Sentinel started there in 1902 and eventually returned there again many years later to a more modern building laboriously crafted by Dennis. To avoid debt he chose to do the work himself over a period of what amounted to too many years.

Dennis enjoyed photography, guns and cameras.

He ice skated gracefully.

Dennis was predeceased by his parents: WILLIAM LADD EASTAUGH and DORIS JESSE McLEAN EASTAUGH.

Surviving are: his wife of 37 years, ROSEMARY RUOFF of Wrangell, Alaska; his son, SCOTT RUOFF EASTAUGH [and wife TAMARA KRISTINE GILLEN-MILL EASTAUGH] of Wrangell, Alaska; his daughter, HEATHER ROSE RUOFF of Fairbanks, Alaska; his brother, EDWARD McLEAN EASTAUGH and [LINDA ROSE MORROW EASTAUGH] of Anchorage, Alaska; his sister-in-law, PRISCILLA ANNE RUOFF HARVEY [and husband LAYTON LEON HARVEY] of Tuckerton, New Jersey; four grandchildren, JAKE RYAN EASTAUGH, CODY SCOTT EASTAUGH and JENNA NIKOLE EASTAUGH of Wrangell, Alaska and AMELIA ROSE BREESE of Fairbanks, Alaska; two cousins, ROBERT LADD EASTAUGH of Anchorage, Alaska and ALISON BENNING EASTAUGH FARNAN BROWNE of Juneau, Alaska.

There will be no funeral service.

Dennis’ body will be cremated and his ashes returned home to Wrangell.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Dennis’ name may be made to the Wrangell Volunteer Fire Department and/or Wrangell Medical Center.


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