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Jones, Lyle F.

by Karen Jones Tebb

Lyle F. Jones came to Alaska in 1943. He acted as Chief Field Chemist on Amchitka and other Aleutian Islands, working with the Birch, Morrison and Knudsen Co. He returned to Colorado after the war and went to work for the Bureau of Land Management.

Lyle was born in Thomasville, Colorado, in 1907, and graduated from Colorado College with a degree in Geological Engineering in 1933. He married Ruth Ellen “Sue” Jones, in 1933, and settled in Denver, Colorado. Their daughter Karen was born in 1935.

Lyle returned to Alaska with his family in 1948. He transferred to the Juneau Office with BLM and became Area Cadastral Surveyor. He flew many miles in DC-3’s and bush planes with his career in BLM, traveling throughout Southeast Alaska and into the Interior. He remembered well the days of not being able to get back into Juneau because of the weather.

When he first arrived in Juneau, housing was at a shortage. Their first home was in the Senate Apts. over a bar. Lyle wasted little time getting a rope set up and tied to a steam radiator that would allow them to climb out onto the marquee in case of fire. With the wooden buildings built “wall to wall” and the winter Taku winds, fire was a constant worry to all residents. After a year, they were able to secure an apartment over the Twentieth Century Theatre. They continued to live there until Karen graduated from Juneau High School in 1953.

Zach Gordon’s Teenage Club played a big part in the social life of all teenagers during that time. It was a gathering place for all teenagers and Zach’s Toastmasters Club gave the teenagers a start on self confidence that helped carry them through lots of awkward times in the process of “growing up.” Percy’s Cafe was another “hang out.” Basketball ruled during the school year and the gym was packed with team supporters. Rainbow dances and school proms kept the teenagers anticipating the next event and for the girls, what we would wear and who would be our date.

After graduation, Karen attended the U. of Colorado and eventually found her in Seattle, and working for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Sue passed away in 1956, and Lyle married Eldora “Dora” Duke in 1958. They remained in Juneau, where they were very active in the community until moving to Anchorage in 1962.

Lyle initiated the survey of the 104 million acres granted the State under the Alaska Statehood Act and pioneered new methods and adapted existing methods to the greatest advantage for surveying in Alaska. He was awarded the highest honor from the Dept. of the Interior, the Distinguished Service Award in 1972. Dora, his second wife, passed away in 1986. His love for Alaska kept him in Anchorage until his death in 2000.

Karen currently lives in Shelton, Washington. Her husband, Phill, is retired. They have been married for 37 years and have two daughters and four grandchildren.

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