Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


By Kevin Ward 

Hoops court honors memory of Williamson


A Fort Seward basketball court doubles as a memorial for drowning victim Andrew Williamson.

Williamson, an enthusiastic basketball player, died while swimming in Portage Cove in May 2010. He was 14. Larry Williamson this week described his son as a “smart, fun-loving kid, who was always surrounded by a group of friends.”

“Andrew and his group of friends were always playing on my basketball court,” said Judy Heinmiller Clark. “I feel like they grew up there.”

Carl Heinmiller created the basketball court in 1969 for his children to practice and play on. In the summer of 2011, Heinmiller Clark and Randy Miner renovated it for the neighborhood children and made it more of a regulation court.

Miner built the support from an old light pole. Larry Williamson helped by painting lines on the court to regulation distances.

“We wanted the kids that play on the court to be able to practice correctly,” said Heinmiller Clark. “Then, of course, we wanted it to serve as a remembrance to Andrew.”

A plaque affixed to the support reads, “In Memory of Andrew Patrick Williamson, February 28, 1996 – May 29, 2010. A True Friend.”

The phrase, “a true friend” was written by one of Andrew’s classmates on a basketball that was signed by Andrew’s friends and given to Larry Williamson and wife Chetra. “We felt it was very fitting,” said Heinmiller Clark.

“I want to express my deepest appreciation to Randy and Judy for taking part in creating the basketball court,” said Larry Williamson. “It was a great thing to do as a remembrance for our son.”