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


Woody Perry, 70, was equipment operator


Woodford "Woody" Perry

Longtime resident Woodford “Woody” Perry died July 13 in Yocum, Ky ., near his boyhood home. He was 70 and had been suffering from cancer.

Perry was born July 20, 1942, in West Liberty, Ky ., to Woodrow and Fannie Dyer Perry, descendants of pioneers who had helped settle Morgan County. His family raised cattle, tobacco, corn and hay on a farm of about 125 acres, wife Frankie Perry said this week.

Woody Perry joined the Army and served two years in Germany. On his return, he worked in road construction on jobs in Kentucky and Oklahoma. In 1965, he married Frankie Adams, who was then working as a county extension agent.

Following a lifelong dream, the family moved to Alaska in 1966. “He always wanted to go to Australia or Alaska. I thought if I went to Australia, I’d never see Kentucky again,” Frankie said this week. “He really wanted to go and see places.”

Perry worked at a Ketchikan spruce mill for about a year before the family moved again, to Haines in 1967. Perry worked in the woods for sawmills here, first as a choker-setter, then as a cat-skinner, his wife said.

He also worked in construction at locations around the state including Fairbanks, Gustavus, Kodiak, and Skwentna, and operated his own business “Woody’s Cat Work,” serving neighbors in the upper valley. “He loved to build roads, clear and level ground and operate heavy equipment,” Frankie said.

In 1993, the family moved from Helms Loop Road to a 40-acre parcel at 26.5 Mile Haines Highway. “He’s got roads all over it,” his wife said.

Perry’s also worked for Southeast Roadbuilders of Haines. President Roger Schnabel said Perry was “probably the best and most experienced” bulldozer operator he’s seen, adept at construction jobs and on logging sites.

Frankie said her husband liked to drink beer and tell outlandish tales with a straight face. During his recent time in Kentucky, Perry told stories of Alaska that sounded so good she started believing them herself, Frankie said. “It’s a family trait. After I was around the rest of the family, I learned that’s what they all do.”

Perry also preferred being outdoors and spent hours driving around the Chilkat Valley, his wife said. “He knew every little trail in the Haines Borough. Everyone knew the man with the red RAV. He’d stop and talk to anybody who was outside.”

After moving here, Perry only once returned to Kentucky previous to his death, but the recent trip that started in October was an important one, she said. “He really enjoyed being down there and reconnecting with his family.”

Perry is survived by wife Frances Adams Perry of Haines; son Duane Perry of Eugene, Ore ., and daughter Tiana Taylor of Haines; grandsons Caullen of Haines and Justin and Joshua Plueard of Eugene, Ore .; brother Garland Perry and sister Sandy Perry Armstrong, both of West Liberty, Ky .; maternal aunts Gertrude Dyer Langenderfer and Grace Dyer Cox, both of Ohio, and by niece Krista Reed Drybrough of Louisville, Ky.

A graveside service and burial were held July 15 at Perry-Henry Cemetery in Pomp, Ky. Donations can be made to the American Legion Post 12 in Haines.