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Gitkov, Captain G. David & Rose (Kent)

by Margaret Gitkov Myers

Gleb David Gitkov, an only child, was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in 1906, to Valerian and Olga Gitkov. In 1913, his family moved to Libau on the Baltic Sea where his father was appointed Assistant District Attorney. In 1920, David and his parents left behind the Bolshevik (Communist) horrors of starvation, arrests, black marketeering, scrounging for food and fuel and endless hours of queuing up for a pittance of food. When the Gitkoffs fled Russia they ended up in Czechoslovakia, later France, and then the United States. David became a naturalized American citizen in 1940.

Rose Kent was born in New York City, NY, to John Francis and Rauha (Sultan) Kent in 1922. She had an older sister, Frances. Her father was eighth generation New Yorker (Irish descent) and her mother came to the United States from Forssa, Finland, as a young woman. John was a tax attorney and Rauha was a manicurist, cleaning woman. Rose excelled in school. She liked to read and play the violin and accordion. She quit college and went to telegraph operator’s school and worked at a Western Union Office until she married David.

After years of sailing around the world, WWII, and then the troopship John W. Weeks, (where Captain Gitkov received his commander’s commission in the U.S. Maritime Service) it was time to quit the high seas. During the war, Capt. Gitkov had sailed to Alaska and was impressed with the vast wilderness, the tundra and the mountains.

In May 1947, Capt. Gitkov took a job captaining a small vessel, the MV Eek on the Bering Sea and lower part of the Kuskokwim River. He rented a house in Aniak, Alaska, and moved his family and his parents up from Seattle, Washington. In 1948, David worked building a school house in Aniak and they had another daughter, Catherine, born in Bethel. In 1949, the older Gitkoff’s moved to San Francisco and David moved his wife and kids to Nyac. In 1950, Capt. Gitkov got a job piloting on the paddle wheeler MV Peggy Belle on the Kuskokwim River. Their daughter, Irene, was born that year in Bethel. In 1952, Capt. Gitkov landed command of the MV Chilkoot, a ferry that ran back and forth from Tee Harbor (Juneau) to Port Chilkoot (Haines) and Skagway. He bought a house in Pearl Harbor near the Shrine of St. Therese and sent for the family. By then, their son John was born in Bethel.

Life in Pearl Harbor was a drastic change from Aniak. Capt. Gitkov was home all winter and every other night in the summer. His income took a big jump, and Rose loved it there. They lived in Pearl Harbor (24 miles from downtown Juneau). The first year or more, Capt. Gitkov walked to Tee Harbor where the MV Chilkoot and later, the MV Chilkat, ferries were moored. Hickeys delivered groceries from their store at Auke Bay. Rose taught Margaret and Ellen second grade at home as the school bus did not go that far out the road. The next year the bus came out and from then on, all the Gitkov kids went to school in Juneau until 1963.

David and Rose added on to a small house—eight bedrooms and only one small bathroom. The big house was hard to heat and usually damp and cool, except the small kitchen. The water was piped gravity feed from a creek and ran until cold weather. The house was heated with a wood heater and wood cook stove, which was later converted to oil. They had no electricity but later bought generators, which usually broke down the day after the 90-day warranty expired. Eventually, they bought a propane refrigerator. Before then, they had a box filled with ice from Mendenhall Glacier and covered with sawdust and gunnysack to keep things cool.

Fishing and playing in the water was a favorite summer obsession. Hunting ducks and geese out by Peterson Creek and the Salt Chuck, and hunting deer out the road or on Shelter Island and Lincoln Island was the fall pastime. The closest neighbors were the Jim Heberts, caretakers at Shrine Island; Charlie Olsons, fishermen, farmers and owners of Peterson Mine; John Ackermanns, farmers from Switzerland and Bernie and Barbara Hulk, Juneau Chief of Police.

David Gitkov married Rose Kent in New York in 1942. They had six children: Margaret and Ellen in 1945, Elizabeth in 1947, Catherine in 1948, Irene in 1950, and John in 1952. In 1988, Captain Gleb David Gitkov died at home in Mosca, Colorado. His ashes and later Rose’s ashes were scattered in Lynn Canal in 1994. Rose Gitkov died while visiting in Las Vegas to celebrate her 75th birthday with her kids. She lived in Jacksonville, Oregon.

David, Catherine, Irene, Margaret, Ellen Elizabeth Gitkov, Fuzzy (dog). Aniak 1951.

Snowshoe rabbits snared by Ellen and Margaret Gitkov, Aniak 1952.

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