Michael Noel Wien

 

Michael Noel Wien

Michael Noel Wien, beloved son, brother, uncle and friend, passed away unexpectedly in Seattle, Wash., Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. He was preparing to fly home to Alaska that evening after a great ski vacation with friends.

A celebration of his life will be held 4-7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 25, in the Westmark Sitka Banquet Room.

Donations in Michael’s memory can be made to the UAF School of Management or the Harry and Sally Porter Heart Center.

Michael, 52, was born Oct. 14, 1964, at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Fairbanks, to Richard and Sally (O’Neill) Wien. He attended Barnette Elementary, Tanana Junior High and West Valley High School, graduating in 1982, “the best class ever!”

He earned his bachelor’s degree in communications and marketing from the University of Arizona in 1987 and was a proud member of the Sigma Chi fraternity.

Growing up in Fairbanks with his sisters Kelly and Leslie on the hill off Farmers Loop, and then at Harding Lake, was special. A lot of time was spent outside, planning, building, creating, plus doing all the things you could do with an old snowmachine, and a little boat with a 7.5 motor, towing each other on water skis, playing with a deck of cards and some imagination.

Those memories and traditions from childhood carried him forward into all aspects of his life. He was so proud to be from Fairbanks and to have the parents and history that he did. He shared his love of Alaska with friends from around the world, at times bringing them home, and leading the way with his charm, humor and persistence.

Michael earned his pilot’s license in 1988, and for a short time was a commercial pilot for Frontier Flying Service in Fairbanks. He always had an affinity for travel and a love of business, inspired by his grandfathers William A. O’Neill and Noel Wien, and most importantly by his father, Richard. He loved to fly with his dad, having the privilege to go to lakes and rivers all over the state growing up. In 1999, he and his father flew a Stearman open cockpit biplane from Seattle to Fairbanks mostly in a snowstorm. They brought the Stearman to Alaska, so his dad and uncle Merrill could re-enact the flight Noel Wien made from Anchorage to Fairbanks in 1924. The reenactment was done in July 1999 by landing and taking off from the Park Strip in downtown Anchorage and flying to Fairbanks. Michael was thrilled to be a part of the re-enactment.

Michael worked his entire life in the visitor and travel industry. He began as a bellman at the Travelers Inn/Westmark. Then, in 1983, he worked as a tour guide for Westours/Grayline, sharing his history and love for the state and family with his passengers. He then spent almost 20 years with Holland America Cruises, ultimately as director of international sales. He worked very hard to provide the best customer service and attention to detail that his travelers deserved, and fostered that in his employees and co-workers. He spent significant time in the Caribbean and traveled around the world, making lifelong friends and always sending postcards home.

In 2011, Holland America reorganized, so Mike moved home for the summer, to stay in one time zone for a while, re-acquaint himself with his hometown, and spend time with his niece and nephews.

In 2012, he came to Sitka to work at Alaskan Dream Cruises as vice president of marketing. After four years of helping the company expand exponentially, he took the job of vice president of sales and marketing for Ravn Alaska based in Anchorage. He quickly set to work using the skills he had acquired throughout his career, fulfilling his desire to continue in the transportation and visitor industry while staying close to aviation. While living in Anchorage, and with periodic visits to his house in Seattle, Michael made many long-lasting friends. He touched so many lives and was loved by so many.

Mike had a passion for the state of Alaska. He loved everything about it. Coke Wallace, his high school classmate, college roommate and friend said, “Mike’s church is Alaska.” And Mike is heading home.

Michael was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Noel and Ada Wien; his maternal grandparents, William A. (Bill) O’Neill and Violet O’Neill; and his aunt, Jean Rozanski.

He is survived by his loving parents, Richard and Sally Wien; sisters, Kelly Wien and Leslie Wien Hajdukovich; brother-in-law, Bob Hajdukovich; nephews and niece, Nicholas Hajdukovich, Alec Hajdukovich, Connor Hajdukovich, Neill Toelle and Anya Toelle; uncles Merrill Wien (Barbara) and Bill O’Neill (Patti); and aunt, Maureen O’Neill.

 

He also is survived by cousins Dona Rozanski, Robyn Gunderson, Loren Rozanski, Kim Wien, Kurt Wien, Kent Wien, Christina Audette and Patrick O’Neill; Fairbanks relatives, Bonnie and Tom Roberts, Chad, Becky, and Max and their families; and many extended family members throughout Alaska and the Lower 48.

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