Frederick Hakkinen, veteran, doctor, dies at 80 in Oregon
December 2, 2021
Former resident with long family ties to Haines, Frederick "Punchy" Sheldon Hakkinen, died in Canby, Oregon on Nov. 6 at the age of 80.
"Apparently he was a little bouncy in the womb," sister Betsy Galloway said. "When he came out, our parents called him 'Punchy' right away."
Hakkinen was born to Elisabeth "Lib" Hakkinen and Felix "Whitey" Hakkinen in 1941 in Sitka. His maternal grandparents, Steve and Elisabeth Sheldon, were the original collectors of what eventually became the Haines Sheldon Museum.
Hakkinen graduated from Haines High School in 1959. He managed the basketball team during all four years of high school and played tuba and sousaphone in the school and dance bands. He was an active boy scout and sang baritone in the Presbyterian Church choir.
He worked at the family's Sheldon's Store on Main Street, once located in a three-story hotel building where the Alaska Fjordlines office is now.
"We would get a freight boat once a month," Galloway said. "Two years in a row they came in on Thanksgiving Day so our folks opened the store because we only got fresh stuff once a month."
His sister said he loved reminiscing over stories that involved adapting to life in rural Alaska, such as receiving cargo thrown from a plane along what was the Mission Field, between the ANB Hall and Main Street.
"They threw out the packages and my brother went out and fetched his package which was a bunch of 45 records. They were all broken," she said. "He liked that there was a certain amount of adaptation involved. That was part of the resilience, patience and humor that was all part of how you managed in a place like that when we were kids. He absolutely loved growing up there."
Hakkinen also worked at Haines Packing Company in the can loft, where he learned the ropes from Annie Hotch. He and classmate Budd Hebert painted the cannery one summer.
Hakkinen also crewed on the fish tender Pacific Queen and helped build one of the first houses on Small Tracts Road.
Hakkinen left Haines to attend college in Oregon and then Denmark where he met his wife, Fritse. He attended medical school at Oregon Health and Science University and was a battalion surgeon for the U.S. Army stationed in Germany. He later had a private practice as a general practitioner in King City, Oregon. He enjoyed skiing, scuba diving, camping, reading and traveling. His favorite destination was Fiji.
He, his wife, his sister and a friend traveled to Haines in August. They visited their favorite places including Chilkoot Lake and 33 Mile Roadhouse, and visited with a few old friends.
"The trip between Juneau and Haines on the catamaran was the perfect way to return home for the last time and the humpback whales put on the best display any of us had ever seen," Galloway said.
Hakkinen is survived by Fritse, his wife of 59 years, children Lisa Hess and Erik Hakkinen, sister Betsy Galloway and four grandchildren.
Memorial donations can be made to the Humane Society or the Haines Sheldon Museum at P.O. Box 269, Haines, AK 99827.