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

Hard man lived rugged life alone, with few friends


November 9, 2017 | View PDF

Ed Beitner was a sportsman who excelled at alpine hunting, a machinist and a stern, uncompromising man who taught his family the backcountry survival skills he learned as a child in German and Soviet occupied Lithuania during WWII that inspired him for the rest of his life. He was 85 when he died suddenly on a visit to his son’s home in Seattle on Oct. 27 of an apparent blood clot.

“After most men pass away you hear about what saints they were, wonderful in nearly every way. My Grandpa Ed wasn’t that person,” Lucas Beitner said. “He did have a lot fantastic qualities, but a number of them he carried to a fault. He was hard working, hard-headed, hard to understand, hard to get to know. He could barely function in modern society.” He said he was “truly at home” in the mountains.

Beitner did enjoy sharing his love of the outdoors with his family. “I was hiking with him before I was out of diapers. He made me a pair of tiny crampons to fit my newborn baby shoes,” Lucas said. Beitner roped the family camps in Washington’s Cascade Mountains to keep young Lucas and his brothers from falling off cliffs, and as they grew he didn’t allow them to pack loads that might harm growing bodies.

Beitner hunted some of the most rugged areas of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest on foot and skis. He used both a bow and rifle for Dall sheep, mountain goat, moose, and bear. He earned listings in hunting record books for mountain goat and black bear.

Goat hunting companion Chip Lende said he was a safe, tough, and highly selective hunter. “Ed was a trophy hunter. That demands a lot more skill than a meat hunter who is shooting anything that’s white.”

Beitner mounted the horns from Lende’s hunts and gave them to him, but always declined dinner invitations.

“Ed taught me a lot. He was a great sportsman,” Lende said, noting that he was an excellent angler.

Edward Martin Beitner was born April 12, 1932 in Lithuania. During WW II he helped his parents and seven younger siblings survive by hunting and foraging in the mountains with his terrier, Heidi.

After the war, the Beitners moved to the United States. Ed worked in a machine shop in Chicago before heading to Alaska in the 1950s. He was gold mining near Fairbanks when he met Edwina Crabtree of Fox and they relocated to Seattle. They had a son Leo and daughter Anita before the marriage ended in divorce. Beitner owned Washington Machine Works, whose large lathe turned out parts for shipyards and the military.

He retired in the 1990s and headed north. When he saw the mountain goats on the slopes in Haines, he chose to stay and eventually built a home here, spending his days hunting, hiking, fishing, gathering mushrooms, reading and wood working, all in the company of his male Lab Heidi, named after his first dog.

Leo Beitner said his father lived on his own terms. “He disowned me two or three times, I think. He was a hero to some and a friend to a few. Those who knew him will miss him.”

Beitner’s siblings, Otto Beitner, Albert Beitner, Wanda Kedaitis, Sina Cappos, Irene Beitner, and Erica Bullok survive him. A brother Erich was lost during WWII.

He also leaves son Leo and daughter Anita Redline; grandchildren Lucas, Cody, and Austen Beitner; Derek and Reed Redline, and numerous nieces and nephews. His dog Heidi is living with family members.

Cards may be mailed to Leo Beitner, 2416 Burley Dr. Everett WA 98208.

There is no service planned.


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