September 1921 - July 2014
Former resident and long-time teacher Margaret Brown, who lived in Skagway from 1964 until 1990, passed away at the Beehive Home in Deming, New Mexico on July 10, 2014.
A memorial service will be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on September 13, 2014, and Margaret’s remains will be interred beside those of her husband Carlton “Brownie” Brown in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
Margaret was born on September 21, 1921 to Raymond and Louise (Williams) Hodges in Cannon Township, Kent County, Michigan. On October 4, 1952, she married Carlton Blaine Brown (Brownie) at St. Mary’s Church in Cascade, Michigan. They had two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth.
Margaret, her husband and daughters moved to Skagway in 1964, when Brownie took a job as an assistant dispatcher on the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad. Margaret began teaching second grade at Skagway City School in 1965. She taught there for 16 years, retiring in 1981. Both daughters graduated from Skagway City School.
Margaret was a lifelong Catholic who attended mass and played the organ at St. Therese Catholic Church for many years.
Preceding her in death were her husband Carlton Brown in 1978; her parents Raymond and Louise Hodges; three brothers, Phil, James, and John “Ray” Hodges; and two sisters, Lois Bassett and Phyllis Blanchard.
She will be lovingly remembered by her two daughters, Mary and husband Jeff Ash of Alabaster, Alabama, and Elizabeth and husband Ted Burr of Deming, New Mexico; seven grandchildren: Amy, Alan, Daniel, Scott, David, Matthew, and Sarah, 14 great grandchildren; a brother, Karl Hodges and his wife Barbara of Caledonia, Michigan, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Margaret always maintained a strong interest in Skagway, and subscribed to The Skagway News to keep up on the happenings. Donations can be made in the name of Margaret Brown to Skagway City Library or St. Therese Catholic Church. – Submitted by the family
September 1949 - July 2014
Phil Bruehler loved trains. Growing up in the Chicago area, the largest and most important railroad city in the country, he became early in his life a devotee of rail, a fascination that would last all his days. He rode them, read about them, took photos of them, attended conventions devoted to them, and I'm sure, dreamed of them. But of all the rail lines he rode, visited, and read about, one stood out for him above all others: The White Pass & Yukon Route in Skagway, Alaska.
To Phil, White Pass had it all: fascinating history combining the great Klondike Gold Rush, a seemingly impossible construction story, incredible vistas, and almost unbelievable anecdotes.
Phil was devastated in 1982 when he learned of its closing, because he still had not ridden it, and now, he felt, he never would. When he read in 1988 of its reopening, it was with glee he scheduled his first trip to Skagway, not realizing then that he would make the same journey annually for the next 23 years. He rode the White Pass rails for the first 14 of those years as a tourist, including the historic centennial years of the Gold Rush and White Pass.
In 2002, he decided riding a few times each year was not enough, and became a train agent. Phil quickly became a legend on the White Pass, delighting and enchanting passengers not only with his encyclopedic knowledge of railroading, the Klondike Gold Rush, and WPYR history, but also with his wonderful sense of humor.
By 2011, after nine years as a train agent, he found the agony of making his way down the aisles of coaches on his excruciatingly painful legs made it impossible to continue, and so he retired. He retired, but he never left White Pass and never will.
A memorial potluck will be held on Sunday, July 27, at 6 pm at the Gazebo at the White Pass RV Park. All who knew Phil are welcome to join to share food and memories of Phil. – Written by Laurie Cone and submitted by Doreen Cooper