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DeHart, Jim & Jane

by Sandra DeHart Meehan

Jim and Jane DeHart came to Juneau, Alaska in 1935, in search of a better paying job. Jim found jobs at the Spruce Lumber Mill and in the A.J. Mines assay office. They had homesteaded at Auke Bay and in 1941, decided to start a grocery business at the site of the old Horton Hardware Store. They had only $100 in cash and borrowed $1000 to get it started. There was no electricity or phone. There were about 35 houses at Auke Bay; only two had running water. Before long they were delivering groceries to 100 people or so, to homes along the Loop Road and “out the road” to the Lena Loop. Ice had to be brought from the glacier to keep things cold, especially the ice cream, because everyone who drove all the way out from Juneau over the unpaved roads always wanted an ice cream cone!

In 1945, they bought the land where DeHart’s Grocery is now located for $2000. The new store had electricity from a generator and water was drained from the roof into a cistern under the store. As more area was added to the building, community meetings and movies were shown in the space over the warehouse. Construction of the dock and marina was begun in 1955, and live herring were sold from the huge pots located at the end of the float.

Jane and Jim were active members of the Chapel By The Lake. Jim served on the Juneau Charter Commission and was a member of the original board of directors of the Glacier Highway Electric Association. He was a member of the board of directors of the Auke Bay Public Utility District until the establishment of the Greater Juneau Borough, and he was a member of the original Borough Assembly for a two-year term.

The DeHarts retired in 1969, and moved into a house on the Engineers Cutoff where they had a huge garden for many years. In their later years, they were active at the Valley Senior Center. Jane DeHart died in 1993, and Jim in 1995. They had one daughter, Sandra (now Mrs. Bill Meehan), three grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

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