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Alaska bush pilot and pioneer John Swiss, 82, died May 24, 2007, at the Anchorage Pioneer Home with his family by his side.
A private graveside service will be Thursday at Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery. A celebration of life will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel.
John was born April 26, 1925, in Boonville, N.Y., one of 12 children born to Frank and Marianne Wisniewski.
John came to Alaska in 1946 with two of his brothers and began commercial fishing that year. John and his brother, Henry, purchased Polly Creek in 1949. It included commercial fishing sites, a trapline, and a cannery for fish and clams.
His family wrote: "In 1950, John learned how to fly, and continued his lifelong passion of flying until recently. John was well known for being an exceptional bush pilot. John lived at Polly Creek until 1954 when he married Elaine Campbell.
"In 1951, John began big game guiding. He pioneered polar bear hunting in the Arctic with Max and Leon Shellabarger in 1954. Shortly after, he began guiding with Nelson Walker, who was his guiding partner until the 1970s. In 1963, John and Nelson guided for the world's largest polar bear. He also won the Nenana Ice Classic in 1963.
"John's flying career included an air taxi service, flying mail to Tyonek, and wildlife surveys for state and federal agencies. John's sons, Tyler and Jack, joined him in his big game guiding and outfitting business, and commercial fished with him until John's retirement. John had several hunting camps on the Alaska Peninsula for brown bear, moose and caribou; numerous commercial fishing sites; and a camp at the Theodore River.
"John was a master of many trades: a journeyman carpenter, plumber and electrician, and he used these skills to build his hunting and fishing camps. John was also an accomplished boat builder, and built most of the boats used in his family's commercial fishing operation. As a skilled mechanic, John developed many Super Cub modifications. John enjoyed reliving his adventures with author Jeff Davis, who wrote about John's adventures in Bush Alaska.
"He will always be remembered for his sense of humor and gregarious nature. John lived a life most people only dream about with the support of his wife and family. He was a good father and a very generous person. His spirit will live forever."
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Elaine; children and their spouses, Tyler and Linda Swiss, Karen and Paul Daugherty, and Jack Swiss and Carolyn George; granddaughters, Kelly Daugherty and Leah Swiss; and Carolyn's son, John, all of Anchorage; his brother, Stanley Swiss, and sister, Virginia Rabe, both of upstate New York; and many nieces and nephews.
Five brothers and four sisters preceded him in death.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Civil Air Patrol, at 1910 E. Fifth Ave., Anchorage 99501.
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