Search Library Catalog

Field, Walter D. & Willie (Kellam)

by Dudley Field

Walter Dudley Field was born on December 19, 1912, at Houston Texas, to Walter Davis Field and Sarah Jane Field. Willie Esther Kellam was born October 14, 1915, to William Henry and Della Mae Kellam in Hunting, Texas. Walter originally came to Alaska on a hunting trip with a long time friend, Eddie Wells, and fell in love with the country, went home and talked Willie Esther into moving to Juneau.

The Fields moved to Juneau in June, 1944, during World War II. In order to move to the Territory at that time, individuals had to have guaranteed jobs and a permit to enter, travel within and depart the Territory. Their permit was #20750 for Zone A of the Territory of Alaska. Walter worked for the Baranof Hotel as a painter and decorator and Willie Esther worked as a waitress.

After the war ended, the government auctioned off land in the Juneau area. The Fields bid on and were able to purchase a parcel of land that is known as Field Meadows, the area that is currently occupied by Fred Meyer on one side of Egan Drive and Arctic Carpet on the other.

Walter and Esther had three children: William Dudley in 1946, Kay in 1948, and Sarah Jane in 1950.

Walter initially was involved with the beginning of Don Abel Building Supply with Don Abel, Sr. He also worked as the general manager for a time. He started W. D. Field Painting and Decorating in the 1940ís, which he owned until they left the Juneau area in December, 1967, to move to Reno, Nevada. In the early days of the company, Estherís earnings as a waitress were used to pay the wages of the employees until Walter could get paid for the jobs he had completed. Walterís son Dudley, worked for his father during his school years, and by the time that he graduated from college they had painted nearly every major building in Juneau including the Juneau Douglas Bridge.

In 1957, Walter owned the Chrysler dealership and Chevron Gas Station on the corner of Front and Main Streets, in what was the original R. W. Cowling Motor Company building. Bob Ellis had an auto body repair shop in the back of the building. After running both businesses for many years Walt closed the dealership and rented that space to Sears and Roebuck. He and several partners built Gold Lodge and Driftwood Lodge in the mid 1950ís.

In 1958, Walter ran for and was elected to a five year term on the Juneau Douglas School Board. He later purchased and subdivided several acres on the east side of the Mendenhall Valley, the area that is currently Glacier View Trailer Park and the land across Mendenhall Loop Road from the trailer park. This includes the area where Dudley Street is located.

Walter was an avid hunter and fisherman. Weekends were spent fishing or hunting in the local area. The family went on many summer outings on the NYLIC IV, a 36-foot cabin cruiser, owned with Keith and Ideal Wildes initially and later with Ken and Pearl Morgan. Walter was an excellent marksman with a shotgun or rifle. He was also known for his fly fishing skills. The double freezer in the basement was always full of fish, ducks, geese, moose, and deer.

He held memberships in the Territorial Sportsmen, Juneau Gun Club, Moose and Elks Lodges, the Juneau Yacht Club and was a 33rd Degree Mason. Walter died on June 6, 1971, in Reno, Nevada, and Esther died on September 25, 1995, in Clatskanie, Oregon.

General Information +
Exhibits and Collections +
Education +
Public Programs +
Juneau History Research -
Museum Calendar
Friends of JDCM