Frederick Martin Mork, Fisherman, Dies at 68

Frederick Martin Mork

Frederick Martin Mork departed for better fishing grounds on Nov. 27, 2023, in Sitka, Alaska, at the age of 68. 

He was born Dec. 28, 1954, in Sitka to Raymond and Edith (Max) Mork, the oldest of five children. He was Tlingit and Inupiaq with a touch of dleit ḵáa (non-Native). His Tlingit name was Kahook and he was Kaagwaantaan from the Eagle Nest House.

Fred’s core love for friends and family, as well as the lands and waters of Southeast Alaska, was nurtured by his life and upbringing in Pelican, Alaska. He grew up surrounded by many family members and friends because his mother Edie always had an open door for children in town – which meant cousins were sisters and brothers and childhood friends were family. Back then, each person had a part and responsibility to the whole – living in a small town required everyone to pitch in and take care of each other. 

Fred graduated from Pelican High School and, in his early 20s, he and his wife Jill Fleury moved to Port Angeles, Washington, so he could attend trade school and learn diesel mechanics at Peninsula College. To carry him and his budding family through, he worked as a part-time diesel mechanic on the weekends and evenings for Shotridge road construction company.

As part of his training, he also took academic courses and was acknowledged by his English teacher for his gift of writing. His letters to family and friends were a testament to his ability to reflect his thoughts and feelings in writing. He also had incredible penmanship, so much that his family often thought his handwriting and cursive should be turned into a font style. Staying the course through his studies, he graduated with an associate degree, all while welcoming his son Jamison Arthur Mork into the world.

From a young age, Fred learned the art and hard work of fishing. He shrimped with his uncle Elmer Mork of Wrangell, longlined and trolled, worked as a deckhand and skipper – it was a lifelong journey that nurtured his love and respect for nature and the sea. 

Living much of his life on the water, it was not only a place of hard work that tested his physical and mental strength, but also served as a place of solitude and reflection, and to refresh his soul. 

Throughout his life, he unapologetically admitted he suffered from wanderlust – he chose to be a fisherman and never grew tired of exploring and traveling the waters he loved and relied on. 

As a fisherman, he always had a favorite spoon, hoochie and flasher. He was an excellent king salmon fisherman – he could be fishing out of a bathtub and still catch a king. Part of his trick was he took great care to get his gear tied up each night, hanging them rinsed and ready where they shined in the sunset while anchored in calm coves or rock piles. 

Fred also knew all of the mountains, hilltops, muskegs and valleys in Lisianski Inlet and Strait. He loved to share his favorite fishing holes and hunting spots, and always had a story or two to share about each place. 

In 1997, Fred met the love of his life, Michele Christensen. They married on May 31, 2003, and forged a new life together, blessing the family with three beautiful children – Kasiana, Gus, and Raymond. There was no greater joy for Fred than being a father and watching his children grow.

He and Michele celebrated 20 years of loving marriage this year. They shared a love for their children, Southeast Alaska, and coffee. They could often be seen debating whether to brew up a second or third pot of coffee, teasing one another, and always brightening up their home.

Fred enjoyed taking his youngest sons to the shooting range, out on the boat and around town to grab a “fishy bagel” as he liked to call them. He loved being out on the water fishing with his son Jamison and taking photos of their time together. He was often seen taking lunch with his daughter Kasi or sons Ray and Gus in Sitka, or wandering over to Juneau to spend time with his eldest daughter Raeanne.

Fred was an observer of the world. He had a keen way of weaving humor into life and its hardships. As he would say, “you can’t scratch an old wooden turnip.” Equally funny as his sense of humor was his contagious laugh. He could never reach the punchline of a joke without cracking up.

As a fisherman and growing up in a small town, he believed in always keeping the coffee pot on. He loved catching up with old friends, exchanging fishing stories and jokes, and sharing his knowledge of trolling with the next generation of fishermen. His favorite breakfast was always in the good company of friends and family – nothing was better than sitting down for a visit over a hot coffee with two creams and sausage links with over-easy eggs and sourdough toast.

He was a beloved father, husband, friend to so many, and fisherman through and through. For all who knew him, he was a kind and caring soul who deeply loved his children. He touched the lives of many, some he hadn’t seen in years, but he always believed no matter how much time had passed, love is never erased or forgotten.

Fred was preceded in death by his parents Raymond and Edith (Max) Mork, brother Raymond Jr. (JR) Mork, and sister Harriet Marie Mork, uncles Roscoe Max Jr., Alden (Itsy) Max, Arthur Max, and William (Bill) Mork; aunts Charlotte (Max) Churchill, Esther (Jeannie) Anderson, Agnes (Axie) Mork Ulrich, Anna (Mork) Breseman, and Betty (Mork) Haynes; and several cousins.

He is survived by his wife Michele (Christensen) Mork; brothers William (Gig) Mork, and Keith (Beaner) Mork; children Randy Soderberg, Jamison Mork, Raeanne (Mork) Holmes, Kasiana Mork, Raymond Mork and Gus Mork; grandchildren Randy Joe Jr. Soderberg and Ocean Blue Reft; uncle Elmer Mork, aunt Marie Laws, niece Jody Aubuchon; and numerous extended relatives and friends he loved.

A celebration of life service for Frederick Martin Mork will be held at 3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 29, at the Sheet’ka Kwaán Naa Kahidi in Sitka. His family invites all friends and family to bring a dish and to come and share stories of Fred.

Plans to take his ashes home to Pelican and hold a service in his hometown will be held in the summer of 2024 at a later date to be announced.  

In lieu of flowers, condolence cards and donations to his wife and children can be sent to The Family of Fred Mork, 108 Rudolph Walton Circle, Sitka, AK 99835 or sent to Michele Mork via Venmo (@michele-mork-1). 

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20 YEARS AGO

July 2004
Photo caption: Junior League All Stars will compete in a tournament in Wrangell. From left are Bryn Calhoun, Chris Scott, Sean O’Neill, Ross Venneberg, Caleb McGraw, Richard Carlos, Jacob Houston, Coby McCarty, Bryan Lovett and Daniel Erickson.

50 YEARS AGO

July 1974

Photo caption: Volunteers leave the Yaw Building Library with loads of books being transferred to the new Orin and Betty Stratton Library on the Sheldon Jackson campus. SJC librarian Evelyn Bonner expressed appreciation to the community for the help.

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