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

Homesteader Loomis dies at 95


July 13, 2017

Jerry Loomis

Former resident Bernard "Jerry" Loomis died July 5 in Toledo, Wash. following a brief illness. He was 95.

Loomis came to Haines in 1961 to work as a station commander for the U.S. Army's Alaska Communications System. His wife Carmen and children Bonnie, Robert, Craig, and Jerry joined him here in 1962.

He retired from the Army, but stayed on at ACS as the director of telecommunications for the Army fuel tank farm to the 48 Mile pipeline pump station. He retired in 1972, when he moved south.

On a visit to Haines in 1994, Loomis led searchers to a site at former pump station in Canada where he said 40 five-gallon jugs of the carcinogenic insecticide DDT were buried.

"Jerry said, 'You know, this probably isn't right. People need to know about this,'" said Gershon Cohen, then director of the Alaska Clean Water Alliance.

"We drove up very close to the river, and he says 'Come over here, line your sight up on that row of trees.'" Loomis pointed to a small clearing on the ground and said that was where the DDT was buried. "Within a week there was a whole team with haz-mat suits up there," Cohen said.

Thirty-three jugs were removed intact and seven had ruptured. "If Jerry had not come forward, by this time the cans would have all rusted and leaked DDT into the river and probably wiped out the eagle preserve," Cohen said.

Jerry Loomis was born Dec. 2, 1921 in Seattle, Wash. and grew up in the Seattle area. He graduated from Roosevelt High School, joined the Army during World War II and was wounded in France. He landed at Normandy six days after the Allied invasion and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

Son Jerry Loomis said his father was present at the liberation of one of the Nazi concentration camps and the memory of that haunted him.

Loomis stayed in the Army after the war, and was stationed in Fairbanks where he met Carmen Stone. They married and homesteaded 480 acres outside of Fairbanks previous to transfer to Wrangell, then Haines.

Loomis bought a half a homestead at 2.5 Mile Haines Highway that his sons still own, and worked as an electrician, helped build houses, and once raised a tugboat that sunk at Glacier Point. He operated the tug towing log rafts for the Schnabel Lumber Company and Alaska Forest Products. "It took a couple of months to get it up and running," said son Bob Loomis, who worked as a deckhand for his father. "It was a wild ride."

Loomis liked to hunt moose, and Bob said, "He took us kids everywhere. He found the old cable car across the river in 1964 and he used to pull us all across that way, moose and everything."

In 1972 he and Carmen moved south. "They bounced all over the place after he retired. The main goal was to purchase property, improve it, and sell it," Bob said.

Carmen preceded him in death. He leaves daughter Bonnie of Toledo, Wash., Jerry of Gig Harbor, Craig and Bob of Haines; nine grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.


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