August 1925 – January 2010
Former Skagway and Juneau resident Jack W. Brown, of Iberia, Mo., died Jan. 4, 2010, at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach, Mo. He was 84.
He was born Aug. 6, 1925, in Huntington, Ind., to the late Calvin and Freda (Leu) Brown. He married Marjorie Lee Brown on Aug. 27, 1959, in Juneau.
The Browns later moved to Skagway, where he was a longshoreman and they operated a gift shop and the town’s cable TV service until they moved to Missouri in the early 1980s. He was involved in many youth activities. He was very dedicated to serving the communities he lived in and was a successful business owner, his family said.
He was preceded in death by four sisters.
He is survived by his family: wife Marjorie of the home; Jack Brown Jr., and wife, Malea, and their children, Garrett and Tye, of Laramie, Wyo.; Jill Henderson and husband, Grady, and their children, Katie and Jake, of Saginaw, Texas; Bob Brown and wife, Dana, and their children, Chelsea and Cody, of Osage Beach; Sandra Brown, of Flemington; and daughter, Heather Brown of Preston; Tom Brown and wife, Jenny, and their children Zach, Megan, Trey and Ethan, of Rolla, Mo.; and two sisters, Betty Roberson, of Logan, Utah, and Gerry Thompson, of Huntington, Ind.
A private family memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions are suggested to the Alzheimer's Foundation. Arrangements were made under the direction of Fancher-Rekus Funeral Home in Iberia. Condolences may be shared with the family at www.fancher-rekusfuneralhomes.com.
Vasilis ‘Babe’ Lavrakas
July 1917 – December 2009
Vasilis “Babe” Lavrakas, 92, died on Dec. 19 in Kerrville, Texas, of heart failure with daughter Dimitra and son Jim at his side and Mozart overtures playing.
He was born in July 1917 to Greek immigrants Fotini and Apostolou Lavrakas in Watertown, Mass. The exact day of his birth is clouded by the Greek Orthodox Church’s use of the Julian calendar.
Family legend has it that he read every book in the Watertown Public Library by the time he attended Massachusetts State College, where he graduated with a bachelors of science in organic chemistry and a minor in German. He later earned his masters in nuclear chemistry from Tufts University.
Enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1942, he was a replacement officer during the Invasion of Normandy and an anti-aircraft platoon assistant leader. Torn about entering the war, the thought of killing was abhorrent to him, “But Hitler was such a bastard, I knew he had to be stopped,” he later said.
In 1944, he was injured in Germany when his truck hit a land mine. The silver screw used to reconstruct his foot was a constant wonder to his children, who tried to bring him to school for “show and tell,” but he declined. Hospitalized in England, Babe spent the remainder of the war as a letter censor. Babe received the Purple Heart, was promoted to 1st lieutenant and returned to the states in1945.
In 1946, he married Joanna Thanos, whom he met when he was 20 and she 12, at his grandfather’s home. “I liked her, she made me feel comfortable, and she was a great conversationalist,” he recounted.
He retired after 32.5 years as a professor of chemistry at Lowell Technological Institute (known as “The Poor Man’s M.I.T”).
Among other things that marked his life, he was a Boy Scout leader, a wood craftsman, an American Tree farmer, a history buff, and a supporter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Babe and Joanna built a cabin in Little Tutka Bay off Homer, Alaska, spending 18 summers fishing avidly and reading the Declaration of Independence for the tiny bay’s celebration of the Fourth of July. His ashes will be spread there at a later date.
The couple also spent two summers in Skagway, where he helped his daughter build a house.
“Plagued with nightmares since the war, and unable to sleep through the night, Babe will now enjoy a deep rest, leaving a legacy of love of literature and poetry, classical music and opera, the outdoors, hard work, rocks and a nice big piece of chocolate cake,” his family said.
His departure came a day before Joanna, who was blinded in September by an autoimmune disease, moved to Calfornia.
And so it would seem that Babe’s passing exemplifies one of his favorite sayings, “When you got to go, you got to go.”
He is survived by his wife Joanna; son and daughter-in-law James and Ruth Lavrakas of Ketchikan; grandsons Gabriel and Nickolas Lavrakas of Anchorage; daughter Dimitra Lavrakas of Skagway; grandson Alexios Lavrakas Moore of Brooklyn, New York; daughter Faye Lavrakas of Sunnyvale, Calif., and granddaughter Alissa Lavrakas Wilkinson and husband, Ben, and great-grandson Jacob of San Mateo, Calif,; son and daughter-in-law Robert and Melanie Lavrakas of Kerrville, Texas. Donations can be made to Volunteer Services at the Kerrville, Texas V.A. for Hospice Care or donate a pig through Heifer International.