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DeVere Millsap, Gloria Edith (White)

by Norma Stickland, great granddaughter

Granddaughter to Abraham Lincoln & Edith Parker, daughter of William Charles & Inez May White, Gloria was the third of nine children raised in Gustavus and Juneau. The family moved back and forth since there wasn’t steady work for her father in Gustavus. In her high school years, she worked during the summer selling strawberries at five cents a basket to earn enough money so she could attend school in Juneau. Gloria graduated from Juneau High School in 1941.

She married Vincent DeVere in the fall of 1941. Vincent worked for the Alaska Juneau Gold Mining Company in Juneau, commonly referred to as the AJ Mine. On January 13, 1942, he met his death in a fall in the Bulldoze Chamber 484, Slope 480, Perseverance. He was placing ladders to crawl onto to place dynamite, when he tripped and fell. It turns out that Vincent took over for Clancey Henkins* while he took a short break. It was an occurrence that put Gloria into a deep depression for several months.

Not long after, Gloria met and married Claude Millsap, who was serving on the Coast Guard cutter Aurora during WWII. The Aurora took the first convoy across the Gulf of Alaska to Kodiak and then to Dutch Harbor. Claude’s home was Los Angeles, California, which meant that for a period of years they moved back and forth from Juneau to LA. They had two daughters, Norma Jean and Linda Lou. In later years, Claude would become Juneau’s first Borough Chairman.

Gloria operated the Juneau Credit Service for 16 years. She was self taught, taking many classes out of state to learn the business of credit reporting and collecting. She maintained an impeccable reputation for compassion along with her success in collecting. She refused to take people to court, preferring instead to set up individual programs that allowed people the ability to pay back their debt. Many times fishermen would come in and plunk down $40,000 in cash to pay off their debts. Her persistence and hard work paid off and in 1977 she retired.

She lived out her years with her younger daughter, Linda, on Douglas Island, commonly known as West Juneau. The home was the first in the Channel Subdivision built in 1962. It is still the family home and residence of Linda Millsap. The trees that line the Channel were small and few, and a good view was had by all in the area. Now, the Channel is lined with evergreens and deciduous trees which block the view for most beyond the waterfront. Occasionally, a thoughtful soul will trim the trees so that those above can still look out and see some water and action of the Channel. There has always been a constant flow of ships that pull up to the docks, but prior to the 60’s, it was predominately geared to Coast Guard and fishing boats with a few cruise ships in the summer. Southeast has relied upon the floatplanes to get them into other communities. The Merchants Wharf has functioned as the loading and debarkation point for other Southeast communities. Many a resident and visitor have sat for many an hour in the old Alaska Coastal Building waiting for the fog to lift or the winds to subside before returning to home or going for a visit. This area is, and always has been, the hub and action point that those on Douglas Island enjoy watching.

Gloria purchased 40 acres of homesteaded property from her parents before their deaths and began the process of clearing the land for her summer home. With help, she finished the inside and outside of a house her brother had previously framed and enclosed. She then added to the property two sheds and a garage that she built herself, which still stand proudly today. Her dream was to porch in the front of the house, and in 1998, in her honor, a beautiful porch was built onto the entire front of the house and a portion of the back. I think she’s smiling.

She helped orchestrate the building of a church and accompanying home for the community of Gustavus. This turned out to be a family project with aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, children and grandchildren all helping. The skills and fortitude passed on by Abraham Lincoln Parker were evident in that project.

Gloria enjoyed excellent health all her life. Unknowingly, a slow killer of heart disease took her life in 1993. She is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in the Parker section with Vincent DeVere nearby. She leaves two daughters and two grandsons, Matthew Ryan, and Ryan Patrick Strickland, whom she loved and cherished very much.

Her daughters Norma and Linda have had the blessing of living enriched lives in Juneau throughout the years. Their heritage from great grandparents on down, has demonstrated what it takes to have the courage to live in this great country. It takes ingenuity, creativity, boldness, thankfulness, generosity and wisdom. Both are still living on Douglas Island today.

*In 1961, Gloria’s daughter, Norma, graduated from high school with Clancy’s son, Dale Henkins. They are still both living on Douglas Island and are good friends today.

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