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Juneau-Douglas City Museum

Klinkhammer, Walter & Winnifred (Barr)

by Virgil Klinkhammer

Walter Klinkhammer was born in Stewart, Minnesota, in 1907, and Winnifred Barr was born in Donners Grove, Illinois, in 1906, and they married in Hopkins, Minnesota, in 1928. Their son Virgil was born in Hopkins in 1931. Virgilís grandparents were Enos and Matilda Klinkhammer and George and Pearl Barr. Both sets of grandparents had moved to Turtle Lake, Wisconsin, and were dairy farmers. Both had large families, nine on the Klinkhammer side and eight on the Barr side. They lived and worked on farms without electricity or running water for many years.

During WWII, Walter was a civilian employee of the U.S. Army Air Corp in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. He went to Juneau on a weekend R&R, liked it, so at the end of the war in 1945, he packed up his family in Minnesota, rode the train to Seattle and flew to Juneau to make a home. Walter went to work at Juneau Motors for E. E. Ninnis until he started his own business, Mt. Juneau Sales and Service as a International Harvester dealer. Winnifred went to work for Lou Hudson at Hudsonís Shoe Shop and later as bookkeeper for Mt. Juneau Sales and Service. The business closed late in 1969, when Urban Renewal bought the property.

Virgil entered high school as a freshman in September 1945, as a member of the class of 1949, at Juneau High School. While in high school, Virgil was a member of both the high school band and the city band. He worked for various auto shops and marine shops along with going to school until 1948. He then worked for his parents in their business until it closed in 1969.

In 1946, a Sea Scout Troop was formed in Juneau of which Virgil was a member. In 1947, he and thirteen others went to Whitehorse on a Scout Convention. They traveled from Juneau to Skagway on the Forest Service boat Ranger 7 and on to Whitehorse on the White Pass Railroad from Skagway. Coming home they took the train to Lake Bennett and hiked the Trail of í98 back to Dyea over the Chilkoot Pass - a great trip! According to Pat Patterson and Ed Frye, who lived in Dyea and brushed the trail for the U.S. Forest Service, they were probably the only people to do the trail since the gold seekers in 1898. Some of the hikers who did that trip were Earl Hunter Jr., Jim OíConnor, Jack Sorri, Dave Graves and Jerry Luetkehans.

Virgil was a member of the Alaska National Guard from 1950-59, and was discharged as a warrant officer. He was an honor guard for the inauguration of Frank B. Heintzelman as Governor of Alaska. Other honor guards at that time were Dudley Smithberg, Terry Pegues, Sam Johnson and Bob Howell. Virgil was a member of the Juneau Rescue Council, a Life Member of Moose Lodge 700 in Juneau and a retired member of Operating Engineers Local 302.

Virgil married Barbara Waters in Juneau in 1953. She was a laboratory and x-ray technician working for the Juneau Clinic, St. Annís Hospital, and Doctors Clinic and other various medical clinics. They have three children all born in Juneau: Kristopher, Roxanne and Eric. Roxanne and Eric are graduates of Juneau-Douglas High School and Kris graduated from high school in Ferndale, Wash. There are two grandchildren and all live in the greater Bellingham area.

After the closure of Mt. Juneau Sales and Service in 1969, Virgil went to work for Mukluk Freight Lines as a mechanic in the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. In 1972, he went to work for The Carrington Company of Seattle and opened a new dealership in Juneau near the airport. In 1973, Virgil returned to Prudhoe Bay working for Mukluk Freight and stayed there until 1985, at which time he took early retirement.

In 1980, Virgil and Barbara moved to Bellingham where Virgil commuted to Prudhoe Bay until his retirement. Virgilís mother, Winnifred, still lives in Lynden in her own home but Walter died in 1982. Barbara Klinkhammer has a mother and sister living in Vancouver, B.C. Virgil and Barbara enjoy living on five acres with lots of animals and being near their families. They attend the Juneau-Douglas Picnic in Seattle each year and enjoy seeing old friends.