My friend Teri Williams dropped this short story by today, and I thought I would share it with all of you:
“During the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, held in Seattle in 1909, Mr. Herman Kirmse was awarded four first place gold medals and two second bronze medals for his dislay of gold nugget jewelry, baskets, ivory, and other Alaska made handicraft. A branch store was opened in Ketchikan.
“In October of 1912, he, his wife, Hazel Cleveland Kirmse, daughter Gladys, and the two sons Jack and Dan were spending several months in Ketchikan before going to Seattle for the winter. Late Monday afternoon October 12, 1912, he went down to the Heckman wharf to greet friends on the Steamer Humbolt, which was just docking. While he was standing on a stringer on the wharf, one foot on a piling head which was cut so it beveled outward and shaking hands with a friend on board he apparently lost his balance and fell between the steamer and the wharf, his head striking the guard rail of the Humbolt. Death, which was instantaneous, came as a shock to all southeastern Alaska.
“To quote from the Juneau Empire, “Mr. Kirmse was a strong man in the community, a liberal advocate of all things which contribute to the growth of the community, popular with his fellowmen, honored by everyone.”
“To Southeastern Alaskans the history of our late esteemed friend is interesting and the results obtained through, and by, his aid will always keep his name alive.
“After her husband’s tragic death, Mrs. Kirmse sold the Ketchikan business and carried on alone, with the original Skagway Store. But, as soon as he could see over the counters she had the devoted and able help of their elder son, Jack.
“Since 1962, when his mother passed on, Jack Kirmse has continued with ever increasing success to operate the family business in the fine tradition of his parents.
“Herman Kirmse made the original NFS collection of Northwest Coast Native Art much of which is still in the hands of the current private owner.”
Seen above is the Steamer Humboldt.