J Bruce Crow
20, 1919 – Dec. 16, 2004
J Bruce Crow was born on September 20, 1919 in Woodbridge
County, Michigan. He was the second child of Cloyd Emerson and Alice Rose
(Hopkins) Crow. J Bruce attended school in Frontier, Michigan and graduated
with a degree in Animal Husbandry from the Michigan Agricultural School
(now Michigan State University). He was the first Crow to finish college.
JB went on to study at Boston University Theological Seminary and the
University of Chicago Divinity School. He was an ordained Methodist minister.
As a conscientious objector, J Bruce Crow did not
serve in the military in World War II. He served his country by teaching
veterans under the GI Bill. After WWII, J Bruce farmed and taught school
in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio with his first wife Arlene “Enee” and their
three children, Elizabeth “Beth”, Constance “Connie”, and Tom “Bimbo”.
While in the Midwest, he was a mink trapper, duck and deer hunter, and
enjoyed Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
J Bruce came to Alaska in 1959 as a BIA teacher.
While in Kasigluk, his friend Oscar Beaver taught him to run dogs. Another
friend, Henry Charles gave Bruce dogs to get started in mushing. He made
regular mail runs to Nunapitchuk, traveled around Tundra, and went to
Bethel and Nanvarpak regularly with his dogs.
Judge Nora Guinn married J Bruce Crow and Lucy Albrite
of Kasigluk on January 6, 1962 in the kitchen of the Guinn home on Brown
Slough. Bruce and Lucy raised four children, and he was proud that all
of them graduated from college. Bruce enjoyed and was thoroughly involved
in the lives of his sixteen grandchildren. He affectionately referred
to his family as the lost tribe of Israel.
J Bruce loved fishing salmon on Mother Kuskokwim.
Beginning in the early 60’s, he traveled to the lower river in a small
skiff with a 20-horse to catch early kings. During this time, J Bruce
and Lucy enjoyed the company of a lively and intelligent pet raven, Jim
Crow, who lived with them in fish camp and outside the home Bruce built
on Airport Road.
Before freezers were common, J Bruce rented space
in the local grocer’s freezer to put away silvers for Tundra people to
eat throughout the winter. His winter and spring months were taken up
with hanging and mending nets.
J Bruce enjoyed many nights as a guest in the home
of Henry and Gladys Jung in Napakiak when traveling between Tundra and
Bethel by dog team, truck or boat. He once snowshoed to Napakiak just
to know he could do it. So sore from the experience, he caught a ride
home with Clydie Hall.
J Bruce traveled to Bristol Bay to study the commercial sockeye fishery
there. Truman Emberg and Al Andre were among those who committed to
creating a local cold storage facility and was instrumental in the
creation of the Kuskokwim Fisherman’s Co-op in the late 60’s. This
effort was loosely modeled after a diary Co-op he started in Michigan.
Soon, he negotiated a deal to bring a Japanese tramper into the
Kuskokwim to direct export salmon so that local fisherman could earn a
greater share of the market price. He fought state and federal
bureaucrats in order to do so. In the early 70’s, Lucy and Bruce
incorporated J.B. Crow & Sons to purchase and process fish on the
Kuskokwim. J Bruce traveled extensively in the fish business, going as
far away as Japan and Germany. He also frequented Seattle and
Vancouver, BC where he explored his interest in aluminum riverboat
design and a fascination with the University of British Columbia
champagne chill system. Later, this technology was incorporated in
tenders that Chet Atkins brought to the Kuskokwim. JB was also a permit
holder on the Kuskokwim.
J Bruce once built his own seawall of wood, with
his friend Antone Pitka, then again out of steel with his friend Chet
Atkins. He served on the Bethel City Council with the likes of Art Nicholson,
Bob Carpenter and Howard “Squeak” Elliot. He later served as one of the
few Alaskan members on the Alaska Seafood Marking institute Board of Directors.
J Bruce taught school for 19 years. He taught senior
sociology at Bethel Regional High School using Anchorage newspapers as
a tool. He also taught fisheries and modern math, counting in Yup’ik with
his hands as a tool. He retired from teaching in 1976.
In the 60’s, J Bruce met Willie Fredericks during
the construction of the Fisheries Co-op building. They shared the same
love of hunting, trapping and the outdoors. Willie often spoke of the
Holitna and Ditno Rivers. In the fall of ’69, Bruce took son, Morgen and
made the first of many trips up the Kuskokwim, Holitna, and Ditno rivers
in a wooden skiff with two 20 horse motors. Eventually, J Bruce would
take his entire family up in one of the first jet boats on the Kuskokwim.
Poppa loved upriver, God’s Country. His annual spring and fall trips upriver
were legendary throughout the region.
J Bruce was a prodigious reader. He always looked
for reality in all people and gave everyone a chance to share their reality
with him. His reality was his pipe and his red hat.
J Bruce, JB, Gus, Poppa, Tulukaruk, Old Drifter,
Mighty Fisherman, Fish Monger, husband, father, Uppa, friend and teacher,
died peacefully on December 16 with his wife Lucy and his caregiver Rosie
Robinson, at his side. His family wishes to thank family and friends who
helped care for Dad in his later years. Special thanks to Doctor Martinez,
Jaeger, Lawrence, Turner, and Buchanan, and PA Alyssa Strom-Perry.
J Bruce is survived by his wife Lucy of 42 years;
his sons and daughters-in-law, Cloyd Morgen and Margie; Samuel Jason and
Renee; Jack Robert and Meghan; and his daughter Alice Rose and son-in-law
Todd Summey, in addition to 16 grandchildren. He is also survived by his
sister, Florence Taylor and her husband George of Florida and by his nephew
James of Michigan. His parents and his brother, Robert, preceded him in
In accordance with his wishes, his ashes will be
spread in his favorite places upriver and in Michigan. J Bruce will be
missed by his family, many students and fishermen friends.
J Bruce Crow was one of a kind.
Source: The Delta Discovery,
16 December 2004