'Cork' Ramseyer gillnetted, ran gallery


Kurt 'Cork' Ramseyer

Former Haines city councilor and port agent Kurt “Cork” Ramseyer, 68, died Nov. 19 at his home in Keizer, Ore., of complications from an external heart pump which was installed in 2010, wife Mary Ellen Ramseyer said.

Kurt, Mary Ellen, and their son Jason lived in Haines from 1978 until 1995, when they moved to Keizer so Kurt could be closer to medical care.

Ramseyer fished the gillnetter Osprey, was an accomplished wildlife photographer and, along with Mary Ellen, owned and operated the Northern Arts Gallery from 1989 to 1995. Former business partner Dave Nanney praised Ramseyer “as a real entrepreneurial guy. He was a hard worker and always busy.”

Ramseyer served as the Haines port agent for several years, and continued to work here in the summers through 1997. He was on the Haines City Council for four years and attended one meeting telephonically from a Seattle hospital room following emergency heart bypass surgery.

“I don’t remember what the issue was, but it needed resolution, and he had to be present, so they arranged the whole thing at his bedside. It was a big to-do because they’d never done anything like that with one of their open-heart patients before,” Mary Ellen said.

Ramseyer was a member of the Elks Club and volunteered several years as a Boy Scout leader.

Doug Olerud, who earned an Eagle Scout rank, remembered Ramseyer as a meticulous leader who kept sharp creases in his Scoutmaster uniform.

“One thing we got out of him was a sense of decorum and doing things right. Whether it was raising the flag or how you kept your uniform, he taught us that the way you do things is important because that’s a projection of who you are,” Olerud said.

Mary Ellen said her husband was a devoted family man. “When Jason was born I was in nursing school. He’d get supper, take care of Jason, do the laundry and tell me, ‘You do your homework.’ He was a family person from the get-go. People wouldn’t think that, because he wasn’t the most personable, fuzzy-feeling person, but when you got to know him, he was different.”

Kurt Lewis Ramseyer was born Dec. 9, 1943 in rural Plainwell, Mich., where he was raised hunting, fishing and playing outdoors. His mother Barbara nicknamed him “Cork” after a World War II fighter pilot.

He served in the Navy from 1962 to 1964, then worked for the Upjohn pharmaceutical company in Kalamazoo where he met Mary Ellen and told his coworkers he was going to marry her. They wed on Feb. 6, 1970.

The Ramseyers kept a small farm and Kurt continued his work at Upjohn. Although it was not part of his job, he was called in to help the company care for animals used for testing, including horses and monkeys.

The family moved to Haines to experience life in Alaska, connecting with relatives living here.

Ramseyer bought his first 35mm camera in the 1970s, using his outdoor and animal skills to capture wildlife images. His photos of lynx, eagles, and mountain goats are still on Alaska greeting cards.

There will be no service. “He wanted his family and friends to take time out of their busy schedules and spend it doing something together that made them happy, that they wouldn’t have taken the time to do otherwise. He truly valued life and realized how fragile it is,” Mary Ellen said.

She survives him, as does son Jason of Wasilla. Cards may be sent to Mary Ellen at 6386 Hogan Dr. North, Keizer, Ore. 97303.


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