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Juneau-Douglas City Museum

Tubbs, Cary and May (Ottesen)

by Agnes Tubbs McAndrews

May Sophia was born to Charles and Mary Ottesen in Seattle, on September 21, 1892. She arrived in Juneau with her mother in 1896, where they joined her father. May went to school in Juneau until her last year of high school. Her senior year she attended and graduated from Broadway High School in Seattle.

Her summers as a child were spent at Funter Bay where her parents were involved with mining. Ottesen owned a sloop which they used for commuting to Juneau. They used a sail and oars for power. The family would make camp on the sunny side of Douglas Island the first day and the second day they crossed the bar and continued on to Juneau. Although the water was occasionally rough, most of the time May fondly recollected on their overnight stays on Douglas Island where they set up their camp, pitched a tent and beachcombed.

May attended the University of Washington and graduated in 1915, with a degree in pharmacy. She was the only woman in her class and the first woman pharmacist to graduate from the UW. May returned to Juneau and worked at the Britt Drug Store, which was located on Seward Street. It is believed that she was the first woman to practice pharmacy in Alaska.

May met Cary Tubbs, who was a sergeant in the Signal Corps, during World War I, when he was transferred to Juneau. Romance developed between them and they were married in 1918. After their children started to arrive, she was a homemaker. During the summer, when her children were visiting with their grandparents at Funter Bay, she worked at various drug stores, filling in for other pharmacists so they could take vacations.

She was active in her church, the Eastern Star, Pioneers of Alaska, and various other organizations. In 1946, after their children were grown, she joined her husband in Seattle but moved back to Juneau when her mother was not well and her father suffered a stroke. Cary followed and they remained permanently. They continued to live in the Ottesen family home. During the early thirties, a second floor was added to accommodate their family, which was lost in a bad fire during the cold winter of 1936. The house was rebuilt the following spring.

In later years, she worked for the Territory and State of Alaska, and retired at 70. May had a fluent mind and was frequently sought out for her knowledge of early Juneau history. May and Cary had three children, Charles, Mary and Agnes, who were raised in Juneau. May lived only a few years after she retired; she died in 1968. She is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, close to her husband who preceded her in death.

Cary Leigh Tubbs was born in Centerville, Alabama in 1891. When he was grown, he became a telegraph operator and worked for the railroads. When World War I was declared, he joined the U.S. Signal Corps. After he became a sergeant, he was transferred to Juneau. He met May Ottesen and courted her for a year before they married, in 1918. Cary was excellent at his job and was able to type out a message at 60 words a minute on a manual typewriter as a message came over the wire. He was well known for his proficiency. Cary took the message, “the ship Princess Sophia is going down,” and handled all of the communications from the Princess Sophia before it sank. Many lives were lost in this unnecessary, terrible tragedy, since there were enough vessels standing by to take off all of the passengers. As a pharmacist, May worked many long hours mixing formaldehyde, which was needed for the many bodies that were recovered.

Cary enjoyed sports, both as a participant and a spectator. After his arrival in Juneau, he played baseball for several years. He liked to bowl and maintained a high average over many years. Cary enjoyed hunting, but was unable to do so for many years, since his employment with the A.J. was a sevenday-a-week job, with only three holidays a year. He belonged to the Masons and the Elks Club.

After he left the Signal Corps, Cary worked at Funter Bay for the Alaska Dano Mines Company and later at the A.J. Mining Company in Juneau. He worked at various jobs after the mine closed. At one point, he left Juneau to work in San Francisco, California, at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, since there wasn’t much work to be had in Juneau at that time. He was employed there for over a year. After his return, he worked at the Alaskan Hotel. In 1946, he moved with his youngest daughter, Agnes, who had just finished high school, to Seattle where employment and schooling prospects were better. May joined them shortly.

Cary and May had planned to eventually retire in Washington, but those plans never materialized, and they spent their later years in Juneau. Cary died in Juneau in 1952, at the age of 61 and is buried at the Evergreen Cemetery.

Cary and May Tubbs’ first child, Charlie, who was named after his grandfather, an early pioneer, was born on April 15, 1921. He attended school in Juneau and graduated from high school in 1939. When he was a youth, Charlie delivered newspapers to the miners who lived in a boardinghouse up the Basin Road. It was a hard route to walk in the winter, due to the deep snow. The miners were kind and usually had hot chocolate and pie for him when he arrived. When he was in his teens he handtrolled at Funter Bay during the summer. He made his own pair of oars, which lasted his lifetime, and he used them until he had earned enough money to buy an outboard. While fishing, when a heavy run was coming through, he broke the propeller on his engine. He carved one out of wood, which he used until a new one arrived from Juneau two weeks later.

After high school, he worked at a local boat yard, the Juneau Sawmill, the A.J. dock, and the Chichagof Mine. He had moved to Seattle and was working in a hotel when World War II broke out. Charlie joined the Merchant Marine and spent the war years in the merchant services. He attended Officer Training School and became an engineering officer. Three of the ships on which he sailed were attacked. After one of these disasters, he was listed as “missing in action.” He spent two weeks in an open lifeboat before being rescued and brought to Australia. His early experience in open boats led to the survival of his shipmates and himself.

Charlie returned to Juneau in 1948, and fished commercially and worked at various jobs during the winter. Over the years he owned the fishing vessels Zeta B, Buddy and Grey Mist, which he owned until his death. In later years, he worked as a shipwright and finished his goal of building a rowing skiff prototype. Charlie had an independent spirit and enjoyed people. He died in 1995, and his ashes were spread at Funter Bay.

Mary Leigh Tubbs was born in 1926, in Juneau. She attended Juneau schools and graduated in 1944. During high school, she worked at part time jobs and after graduation she worked for the U.S. Army Engineers. Mary joined a friend who was from Concord, California, and they traveled to that state. Mary worked at Port Chicago, where she met her first husband, Wheeler Justice, who was in the Navy. Mary and Bud, as he was known, were married in Kentucky after his discharge. They lived in his home state for a year and then moved to Seattle. Mary worked for the U.S. Forest Service and they both acquired more schooling. They later came to Juneau for a visit and to look for possible employment, while they were visiting. Bud had put in an application for employment at the Alaska Light and Power Company and was hired by them, after the unexpected death of George Shaw, a long time employee. Juneau became their home. Bud and Mary were divorced after about six years.

Mary worked for many years for Pan American Airways, up until they lost their certificate for Juneau. She stayed involved with the travel industry, for it was always her favorite employment. She worked for Alaska Airlines and for many years with Alaska Travel. Mary was also employed with the Forest Service when she first moved back to Juneau, and again before she left.

She later met and married Roger Stefano. From this marriage her only child, Eric, was born. He was the joy of her life. Mary was involved and active in many organizations while she lived in Juneau. The family moved to Port Angeles, Washington, around 1975, where they bought a business. Mary was found to have cancer and she died in Port Angeles at age 56. It was a great loss for Eric who was only nine. Mary had many friends, was loved by many, and greatly missed by her husband, brother and sister.

Agnes Louise Tubbs was born October 6, 1928. She grew up in Juneau and graduated from high school in 1946. As a child, Agnes spent many summers at Funter Bay where her grandparents lived. There, Agnes had only Charlie and Mary for companions and a strong bond was forged between them. When in high school, she worked at part time jobs and in the summer, full time. This was customary for that generation. Agnes was employed at the Coliseum and 20th Century Theaters, Snow White Laundry, Sugar Bowl and Percy’s Café. In 1946, she went to Seattle with her father and within a few days obtained employment at the Stratford Hotel. Agnes worked there until she returned to Juneau in 1948.

In 1948, Agnes married Earl Bassford. He had worked for the A.J. for a short time before World War II, and served in the Navy SeaBees during the war. After his return to Juneau, he owned a transfer company for a short time and during their marriage he worked as a logger, fisherman and bartender, his preference being outside employment. Mostly living in Juneau, they also spent time in Sitka, Anchorage, Cordova and Wrangell. Agnes worked at various jobs during those years. Although the marriage lasted only six years, Agnes found it an adventure, and has fond memories from that time of her life.

In 1957, Agnes married Jim McAndrews who was with the U.S. Coast Guard in Juneau. She gained two stepdaughters, Patty and Carol, whom she raised. The girls brought great joy to her life and she had five granddaughters, one grandson and two greatgrandchildren. While Jim was in the service, they lived in Florida, California, Michigan, Ohio and at Kodiak and Ketchikan.

Juneau was a diversified community during her formative years and having grown up with people who came from different walks of life helped her to have an open mind. The moves were a challenge for Agnes but she gained knowledge and found enjoyment from each move. Over the years she worked in hotels, specialized restaurants and dinner clubs, often as a head waitress or supervisor.

She and Jim retired in Traverse City, Michigan, and built a house on a lake, and Patty and Carol lived fairly close. Three years later they separated and in 1978, were divorced. She moved to Port Angeles, near her sister and after Mary’s death, returned to Juneau in 1983, to be closer to Charlie. Sadly, Jim died in 1984 at the age of 56.

Before retiring, Agnes worked for the Alaska Laundry and Dry Cleaners, the City and Borough of Juneau and the State of Alaska. She belongs to the Alaska Yukon Pioneers and the Pioneers of Alaska and various other organizations. She still resides in Juneau.

Cary Tubbs

May Ottesen, 1917.