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

Black: former Haines city mayor, veteran


March 1, 2018

David Black with sisters Minto, Jannette and Ruby.

Dave Black, 82, former Mayor and businessman, died of heart failure on Feb. 10 in Puyallup, Wash. surrounded by family. Services will be held at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Tacoma on Saturday, March 17.

Black has the distinction of serving as the last Mayor of the City of Haines, albeit for one year. He won the 2001 city election by two votes. In 2002, Black and then third class borough Mayor Jan Hill both ran for Mayor of the newly created Haines Borough, but Mike Case won.

Former councilman Norm Smith said that Black was solidly "pro business." Black often cited Skagway's economic success as a model, and was frustrated by Haines' lack of a unified community vision.

Still, "Haines took up his whole heart," son Ian Black said. "Haines was the place his American dream was made."

David Arthur Black was born in Glasgow, Scotland on March 5, 1936, the third of Christina and David Black's four children. The air raids of World War II, rationing, and shortages of all kinds influenced his attitudes and choices. Favorite phrases included, "You never know when you'll need one of those," and "Scotsmen have deep pockets and short arms."

He served in the Royal Air Force in Germany as a radio technician during the Cold War, and then immigrated to the United States in 1958 after being sponsored by his sister, Ruby Dobler, and her husband John who lived in Haines. Another sister, Minto Tait, and her husband Gordon also settled in Haines.

Black became a citizen and called the United States, "The best country in the world," although he kept his Scottish accent and "old Scottish ways," friend George Campbell said. "He took milk in his tea and loved shortbread."             

Black married Carlyn Joyce Comstock (Joyce) in Haines on Nov. 7, 1959.  Their first business venture was a service station. Black bought an old fuel truck and began delivering heating fuel. From humble beginnings he built a thriving business, Valley Fuel Service, Inc., that he eventually sold to White Pass Alaska.  Dave and his second wife Victoria (Horton) Black retired to Washington in 2004.

As a young father, Black made time for his children, taking them bird hunting and supporting their activities. "I remember him and my dad staying out late on summer nights working on the Little League field," George Campbell said. Black was a longtime member of the Haines Volunteer Fire Department, a former fire chief, school board member, and Elks Club Exalted Ruler.

"When I joined the fire department in the 1970s, Dave was already an elder statesman," Alan Heinrich said, noting that Black, "put a sincere effort into everything he did." He was patient, too. "Dave taught my daughter how to drive and she ruined his transmission, and he said 'oh well' and put another one in," Heinrich said.

Black loved moose hunting from his cabin on the upper Chilkat River, and playing pool. Black and his first wife Joyce danced with "great style and elegance," at the Elks Club, where Black "never was afraid to be heard or raise a toast," Ian Black said. His father was close to his sisters and happiest at family functions surrounded by loved ones.

Dave Black is survived by his three children: David K. Black, Karlyn G. Black Kaley, Ian M. Black, and their families; four grandchildren; first wife Joyce Black and his current wife, Victoria Black; sister Jeanette Field, and many nieces and nephews. Sisters Ruby Dobler and Minto Tait preceded him death.

Cards may be sent to Ian Black, 12008 181st Street East, Puyallup, WA 98374.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Haines Volunteer Fire Department or the Haines Sportsman's Association.


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