On Friday, October 28 Alaska lost a treasured son, David McRae. Born April 20, 1961 in Seattle to Bristol Bay’s Grace (Gardiner) McRae and ?sherman/carpenter father Sam McRae, David grew up between homes in Seattle, Williams Lake, British Columbia, and summer ?sh camps in Ekuk and Naknek.
During his school years in Williams Lake, David lived with his father, an accomplished log home builder, who traveled extensively in his work. In the times his father was away, he became a beloved family member to the Durfeld and Vaughn families. David’s love of ?ying started with Dr. Vaughn’s collection of small planes. David’s mother Grace was a long-tenured nurse at Virginia Mason hospital in Seattle where she had a home often shared with David. Grace’s mother, Lydia Gardiner of Aleknagik, Alaska, operated a salmon set net site and introduced David to the world of commercial ?shing. Wanting more ?shing experience, David worked with the Smith family of Aleknagik and quickly transitioned from deckhand to captain while ?shing all districts in Bristol Bay.
After ?nishing a degree at Western Washington University, he contemplated many careers and happily committed to none. In the decades that followed he became a commercial pilot, artist, carpenter, builder, collector, apartment manager, trader, entrepreneur, guide, traveler, while always falling back on aviation and ?shing as his core work.
From his earliest days, he was identi?ed as a high achiever, athletic, well-liked, and enthusiastic. His optimism, friendly interest, capabilities, and available time made him a magnet for all manner of friends. He could always be counted on for an impromptu trip abroad, sur?ng in Hawaii, caribou hunting, motocross riding, ?xing up an old truck, building a cabin, resurrecting a boat, and ?nding just the right airplane or airplane part. David felt a special kinship with his aunt and uncle, Bella and Jay Hammond, their daughter Heidi, and their grandchildren Jay and Lauren. He spent many summers ?shing with Heidi and her children at their Naknek River set net site. As Governor Hammond eased into retirement, David took on responsibility for supporting the Hammond’s Lake Clark homestead where Bella still resides.
David was preceded in death by both his parents and older brother Sam Jr. He also leaves behind constellations of friends in: the Cariboo region of British Columbia; Seattle — where he was known as the ‘Mayor of Minor Avenue’; Anchorage – where he was a ?xture in the aviation community; and Bristol Bay where he had numerous ?shing and ?ying colleagues, and cousins in the extended Gardiner family.
Funeral service for David will be Saturday, December 10th, 11:00am at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Reception to follow at the Curling Club.