David K. Hartung: July 3, 1951, to March 5, 2023


March 29, 2023

David Hartung

Dave Hartung, 71, of Wrangell, passed away March 5, 2023, in Portland, Oregon. He was surrounded by his family and loved ones. A celebration of life was held in Portland on March 26.

Dave was born and raised in Portland. He demonstrated his mechanical abilities at a very young age, and was even known to help the nuns in grade school with some basic car maintenance. (It wouldn't surprise anyone to hear that he was known to let the air out of the tires at recess, so he could get called out of class later to "fix" a flat tire).

He took over his mom's garage in eighth grade, and began cutting and welding to make dune buggies and go-karts; he was the life force of the neighborhood. His mom also describes the house getting wired for phones in every room, and backyard tunnels dug and wired for lights. Even as a kid, Dave always had a project going.

Dave was in the Army for two years in Germany. Soon after returning home, he brilliantly transformed a school bus into an RV - complete with woodstove and shower - and headed north to Wrangell.

He lived in the bus for a short while before building his floathouse, which he lived in for nearly 50 years. He eventually bought a house, and property, in Port Protection that he used when fishing in the summer, but he always called Wrangell home.

Early on, Dave fished on a seine boat, but one friend reports that Dave longed for his own schedule, so he bought a hand troller. He ended up owning two hand trollers: the May One, and the Alaska.

Dave then built the 42-foot Sunny Bay, a steel-hull power troller, over three winters in his own shop - from the keel to the TIG-welded aluminum wheelhouse, engine and power train, and trolling gear. He fished on that boat for more than 30 years, and had a reputation as a good fisherman. He was lucky enough to have his long-time partner, Frieda Holben, fish with him for over 10 of his last years.

From one friend: "I was always amazed at how resourceful Dave was. "On one job, he gave me so many ways to remodel a bathroom that I finally said, "Just do it how you want." From another friend: "Dave was a perfectionist in many ways, and out of all my friends, he taught me the most."

There was nothing that Dave couldn't do: welding, boat building, fisherman, carpenter, mechanic, restoring old cars, and on and on. Anyone who knew him, knew his unusual ability to figure out complex mechanical problems. He was famous in town for his abilities, known for always helping a friend, and always doing a job right. He truly was a mechanical genius!

Dave had a little mischief in him, and strong opinions about everything, but overall he was lighthearted, kooky and fun, lived a simple and relaxed life, and was a man of his word. He will be greatly missed.

Dave is survived by his mother, Bee Hartung, his six siblings, his long-time partner Frieda Holben, and several nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his father, Dan Hartung.


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