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Longtime Juneau resident Luisa Stoughton lost a 15-year struggle with breast cancer on May 4, 2007, at her oceanside home in Juneau, surrounded by family, friends and her dog Killik. She was 60.
She was born Jan. 8, 1947, in Dallas, Texas, but as an army officer's daughter, she moved frequently, attending several colleges before graduating with a bachelor's degree at the University of Maryland. In her early years, she lived in Munich, Germany, Aix en Provence, France and the San Francisco Bay area.
In 1976, she moved to Alaska in search of adventure and a life worth living, said family members. After working for the state for a year, she began to work in movies, a lifelong love. She had cameo appearances in the George Attla movie, "Spirit of the Wind," and was one of five main crew members who made that movie the success it was. For the next 31 years, partnering with her husband, Joel, she traveled widely throughout remote regions of the world, working on films about musk ox in Greenland, swans and monkeys in Japan, penguins in Antarctica and snow leopards in Mongolia. But no matter how exotic these trips, she always yearned to return home to work on films involving wolves, bears and the great wildlife of Alaska. Her dedication to wildlife conservation and love for all animals was sustained and far-reaching.
Her other adventures included exploring East Africa, trekking in Nepal, canoeing and rafting arctic rivers, and living and eating well wherever she was.
Of all the things that mattered, she was most at peace in wild Alaska. She traveled and camped extensively in most regions of the state and built a cabin with her husband in Funter Bay on Admiralty Island and a hand-hewn log cabin near the Robertson River in Interior Alaska. These retreats and sanctuaries were a major source of her inspiration, strength, and healing for over 20 years.
"Luisa will be long remembered for her quirky wit, tireless humor, strength in the face of adversity, love of the movies and the Rolling Stones - and just pure style," said her husband. "Life is too short to drink cheap wine, she would say. She would tell you to do the things that really make you happy, and above all else, have a good time."
She was preceded in death by her father, Maj. Gen. Tom R. Stoughton, of U.S. Army, in 2000.
She is survived by her husband, Joel Bennett; mother, Marguerite Stoughton; sisters, Julia Millon, Anne Brown and her husband, Tom, and Mary Briere and her husband, Francois; nephews, Tom Millon, John Millon and Matthew Briere; and nieces, Samantha Stoughton and Francoise Briere.
A memorial celebration for friends and family will be held at 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 26, in front of her home at 15255 Point Louisa Road.
She was cremated, and her ashes will be spread in her favorite spots: Admiralty Island, Robertson River cabin and the Himalayan Mountains.
Donations in her memory can be made to either: Friends of Admiralty, Box 20791, Juneau, AK, 99802, or Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, 419 6th Sixth, No. 200, Juneau, AK, 99801.
Tonight on Your Alaska Link