Fred Lawrence Hosford was born May 4, 1949, at the White Pass Hospital in Skagway, Alaska. He died April 13, 2023.
Nicknamed Fritz as a child, he was the second of five children born to Ed and Frances (Jigger) Hosford. He was raised between Haines and Skagway/Dyea. Fred attended the Pius Mission School as well as Haines and Skagway Schools. In high school, he played basketball, was voted prom King, and graduated in 1967.
Fred’s family built a cabin at the Hosford Sawmill located at 3-mile on the Chilkoot Trail. They also logged and built the road up West Creek. Growing up around logging operations, Fred developed a strong work ethic and a generous heart of gold. Anyone who was blessed to know Fred, witnessed his compassion and knows that he’d give the shirt off his back or the shoes off his feet to someone in need, which he did on multiple occasions.
Fred was also known for his unique sense of humor and prankster behavior. He had a habit of bestowing nicknames on people he loved and got a kick out of signing folks up to receive silly or irrelevant junk mail. And if you just happened to be in the grocery store at the same time as Fred, beware — you may have been surprised to find embarrassing items in your basket during check-out while Fred stood giggling off in the distance. Fred loved to laugh, and it was infectious.
Fred initially met his future bride Kathy’s family (the Ericksons) in the mid-1960s during one of his father’s logging operations in Thomas Bay. In 1969 when Fred was drafted into the United States Army, Kathy’s family stayed in touch with him by sending cards and cookies. During his deployment, Fred was stationed in Vietnam and Germany.
Upon his return in 1971, Fred went to work for the White Pass & Yukon Railroad as a trackman/section laborer. The following year Fred went to work for Glacier Timber, his father’s logging export business. He later was part of the crews that helped build the Trans-Alaska Pipeline as well as the Klondike Highway (including the Moore bridge).
The lucky person who Fred chose to spend his life with was his loving wife, Kathy. They married in 1976 and had two children, Desi and Eric, and raised them all over the state of Alaska. Fred worked as a service oiler/mechanic and Kathy was a flagger/heavy equipment operator.
They lived in Skagway, Petersburg, Kihei (Hawaii), Girdwood, Hollis, Chicken and eventually Fairbanks, where they planted for 14 years. During that time, Fred worked at different pump stations along the pipeline, and he eventually retired in 2001 from the Operating Engineers.
Fred was a devoted father and gave his kids the most amazing experiences due to their unique upbringing, spending summers in road construction camps. He taught Desi and Eric, along with his grandkids and many cousins and friends, to drive at very young ages.
In 1999, Fred and Kathy moved back to Skagway where they would start building their “retirement project.” Not long after, the Chilkoot Trail Outpost became recognized and remains one of the finest lodging accommodations in the state of Alaska.
In August 2018, one of Fred’s lifelong dreams came true when he was invited to be adopted into the Raven Clan. Growing up in the Chilkat Valley, many of Fred’s closest friends were Tlingit, and he felt a very deep connection to their heritage. He was given the name Sampo and wore it proudly.
Fred had a strong faith in God and attended church at every opportunity. He looked to Jesus, his Lord and Savior, as the miracle worker who carried him through this life and into the next. Fred was a perfect example of how to love thy neighbor. He was a selfless man who always put others first.
Fred also worked hard to remember the names of each person he met. He always carried a notepad in his pocket to write them down. Fred had a uniqueness in keeping in touch with friends- dropping occasional notes in the mail and writing out hundreds of Christmas cards every year. And if you hadn’t seen Fred for a day, a week, month, or year, you always picked up right where you left off, as if time never passed.
Fred’s kids and grandchildren meant the world to him. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends and all who knew him. Fred was preceded in death by his parents, Ed and Jigger, his brother Pete, and his sister Janet. He leaves behind his wife, Kathy, daughter Desi (Trent), son Eric, and six grandchildren: Carson, Kalina, Armour, Cannon, Diesel and Rockwell. Fred also leaves behind his brothers Ray (Beryl) and Mike, along with many beloved nieces, nephews and friends- who were his extended family throughout Alaska, the Yukon and across the globe.
His grandchildren would like us all to remember on his birthday each year, May the Fourth (and loving memories of Fred) Be With You!
A Celebration of Fred’s Life will be held on Saturday, May 27 starting at 5 pm at the Chilkoot Trail Outpost in Dyea. The service and sharing of memories will begin at 6:30pm. The family would love any memories to be shared in the guestbook below as well.
To help the family plan accordingly (they want to be sure to have enough food), please RSVP here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0948a8af2ca3f49-fred
Read comments under this obituary and view the photo gallery of Fred and his family at McMillen Mortuary.
Skagway is a magical place.
May Fred RIP, he will be missed. A good man and truly a unique Alaskan character.
Thank you sir for your service and God Bless. I LOVE LOVE Skagway.
Heart goes out to Kathy and family . Fred was wonderful man . Worked with both of them on TAPS . Very classy folks . Had no idea of Fred’s origins . Explains a lot about him and his humble character . May Fred Rest In Peace !
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