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Romanoff, Frieda

by Amy Lou Barney & Renee Guerin Blood

Frieda Romanoff was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 6, 1899, and died in the Juneau Pioneers Home on April 30, 1997. Frieda was one of five children of Russian immigrants. She worked in an uncle’s bakery to help pay for her education at Northwestern University. After college she worked as a transcriber for the American Medical Association until her sense of adventure took hold and she and a friend hitchhiked to San Francisco.

Frieda came to Alaska in the 1920’s, as secretary to Jack McCord, an early day promoter who was developing a cattle and sheep ranch on Sitkalidak Island in the Gulf of Alaska. After several seasons on Sitkalidak, Frieda moved to Seward where she managed a gift shop.

An avid photographer, Frieda came to Juneau in the early 1930’s, and worked part time for Winter and Pond in their darkroom, and was associated with them in a mining venture near Echo Cove.

Frieda spent two terms as a secretary for the Territorial legislature, before becoming employed by the Social Security Administration where she took the first unemployment insurance claim for the Territory of Alaska. She continued working for the Employment Security Commission, later the Department of Labor, until her retirement.

When she was 75 years old, Frieda satisfied a lifelong desire to learn how to swim, and was a familiar tiny figure walking in the early mornings from her home in the Mendenhall Apartments to the Augustus Brown swimming pool for her lessons.

Although Frieda never had children of her own, during her years in Juneau she tutored and was a friend to many youngsters growing up in the area.

Frieda Romanoff, age 91.

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