Parks and Recreation Image


Juneau-Douglas City Museum


Jewett, Leo J. & Helen (Laurie)

by Marilyn, Donna and Bob Jewett
UID=905


Dad was born in 1899, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His family moved west to Washington State and settled in Oregon. Mother was born in 1901, in Sutton, Nebraska, the last of nine children. Motherís brothers Jack, Cameron, Melvin and Allan Laurie had gone to Juneau after the First World War. Jack worked as a carpenter, the others worked in the mines. Family history tells that Uncle Jack built the Taku Lodge.

In 1922, mother and her parents sailed to Juneau on the SS Alameda to visit her brothers and their families. They were so taken with the town and lifestyle, they decided to stay. Mother worked in the Sixth Territorial Legislature, which at that time consisted of eight senators and sixteen representatives. Besides the chief clerks in both houses, there were seven clerk-typists who earned $1.00 a day.

After the Legislature ended, mother worked at a pharmacy owned by Sir William Britt, who was also the Norwegian Consul. In 1923, she was hired by the Alaska Road Commission.

Dad attended Columbia University in Portland, Oregon, and entered Christian Brothers Business College, graduating in 1918. Following graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and served on the USS Albany in the Pacific. He was discharged in 1922, and went to work for the Willamette Iron Works and Northwest Steel Company. He joined the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads in 1923. In March, 1926, he was transferred to Juneau.

Dad and mother first met in the elevator in the Goldstein Building, the only elevator in the Territory at that time. They were married in the social hall of the S.S. Alaska while the ship was at the dock in Juneau.

In 1929, Dad and Uncles Jack and Allan built a house on a waterfront lot five miles north of Juneau. The lot had 138 waterfront feet and sold for $1.00 a foot. (This house is still standing, although many changes have been made.)

In March, 1942, dad was transferred to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, to arrange for board and lodging for Bureau of Public Roads employees during the construction of the Alaska (Alcan) Highway. The family was allowed to go with him. We returned to Juneau in September, 1942, dad in December.

Dad was a member of the American Legion Post No. 4. He served as PGCG, 40 & 8, Gastineau District Committeeman and Member-at-large of the All Alaska Boy Scout Council. In 1953, he received the second highest honor in Scouting, the Silver Beaver Award. He continued his commitment to scouting in Washington after his retirement.

When dad retired in 1955, he was the senior BPR employee in the Territory of Alaska. Mother retired from the Alaska Road Commission in December of 1955.

The house at 501 Kennedy was sold to Mr. and Mrs. George Gullufsen, Jr. and dad and mom moved to their property on Whidbey Island, Washington. They observed their 50th wedding anniversary in 1978, with a large celebration. Guests included motherís sister-inlaw, who was an attendant at their wedding.

Dad passed away in 1979, and Mother in 1993. They are survived by their 3 children, 10 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.


Leo and Helen Jewett on top of Mt. Juneau, 1926.