Elias Venes was born in Akiak, Alaska on April 22, 1928 to Joseph and Annie (Wassillie) Venes. He married Ruth Lindstrom on May 20, 1949(?). Together they had 10 daughters and three sons.
After Ruth’s passing in 1971, he reconnected with and married his childhood sweetheart, Bernie Kvammie Twitchell. With that marriage, Dad gained 3 step-daughters and 2 step-sons and Bernie (bless her heart!) gained 10 step-daughters and 2 step-sons! Together they built their home on 3rd Avenue in Bethel, where they lived until their passing.
Dad was a self-taught master boat, sled, house … you name it, builder. He could fix anything! “I’m a jack-of-all-trades” and “A graduate of the School of Hard Knox”, he would say.
Elias was a proud veteran of the Merchant Marines during World War II, transporting injured troops back to the States from the battlefield. He retired from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), working there for 33 years. He was also a commercial fisherman and loved the outdoors.
Elias and Bernie were master gardeners, which provided fresh vegetables for the family every year. In July of 2006, the City of Bethel named Dad Honorary Captain of the Port. When he was a teen, he would often run his 5 dogs down to Bethel to pick up “the girls” for the dances. They would take turns running all the way back to Akiak since the dogs couldn’t pull them all. He said, “A couple of those girls couldn’t run worth a darn, but that Chrissie Hately could run pretty darn good!”
He spent a great deal of time cutting cords and cords of wood with Uncle Joe Venes, his late brother. Elias lived a good life to the age of 91 and ¾’s. Someone mentioned, “So cute! You sound like a kid; adding the ¾’s!” But Dad said, “When you’re my age you gotta add every day.”
If he had his way, he would have lived to 103, as his grandma did. He said “Grandma never so much took an aspirin in her life!”
Dad is preceded in death by his first wife, Ruth Eva Venes; his sons, Leonard Venes, Wilfred William Venes (who died at birth), and Billy Lindstrom; daughter Debra (Dub) Ovitt; and his sweetheart, Bernie Venes.
He is survived by his daughters, Elizabeth “Dit” Hoffman (Bobby); Arlene “Shoonty” Rost; Ruth Ingrid Garrison (Pete); Josephine Daniel (Jacob); Henrietta Knight; Connie Sankwich (Ken); Genevieve Brothers (Jim); Lisa Waters (Trevis); Janet Gray (Mike); and his stepchildren June McAtee; Hollis Twitchell; Margie Brown; Mike Twitchell; and Dede Steele.
He leaves his 18 grandchildren and many great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. The family would like to thank the staff of YKHC; Cremation Society of Alaska; the Immaculate Conception Church; VFW; the Moravian Choir; and all the family and friends who provided consolation, food, and support to our family as we say goodbye to our dad, Elias.