It is with heavy heart that we share the passing of James Richard Vculek. He died peacefully on May 8, 2014 in Anchorage at the age of 73. He will forever live on in the lives he touched and in the workmanship of beautiful treasures he created during his lifetime.
Jim was born on the Homestead in Nebraska on June 28, 1940 to parents Joseph Harold Vculek and Rosalie Katherine Wotipa – the second of three children. The family moved to Wahoo after a short time and Jim was raised on the farm. He attended school at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church. In his youth he was on the school swim team as well as football team.
After high school, Jim joined the Coast Guard and served from 1958 to 1963. He explored Spain, Portugal and Norway and other places around the world. It was during his time in the service that Jim discovered Alaska and fell in love with this great land. He moved to Valdez after the 1964 earthquake where he helped relocate and rebuild the town. One of the first projects he was involved in was moving the Eagles Hall.
Jim attended Carpentry Apprentice Training in Anchorage and completed the program in May 1965. After that he moved back to Valdez where he lived over 30 years building a life and raising a family with his then wife Dian Rhoden.
Jim was known as a guy who could build anything. He left an indelible stamp on the community through projects like Gilson’s Grocery Store, Harborview Memorial Hospital, Teamster office building, NBA Bank, Keystone Mall, Yukon Radio Building, Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Alpine Woods Fire Station, Valdez Softball Complex, Valdez City Council Chambers, Valdez Airport Terminal, CVTC main office, CVTC warehouse, CVTC communication stations, National Guard Armory, Peter Pan Seafoods, Glacier Bar, Valdez Fisherman’s Dock, Raven Auto, and Sugar & Spice. He also built various homes around the town of Valdez including his own which is still owned by the family.
Being on the water is what he enjoyed most while raising his family on Prince William Sound. There were many weekends spent fishing, camping and enjoying God’s Country. Jim believed in the value of community service. He served on the board of the Copper Valley Electric Association, the City of Valdez Transportation Commission and on the Valdez Building Code Review Committee. He was a trustee of the Valdez Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie #1971 and a life member. The Vculek family attended St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church.
In 1997 Jim moved to Anchorage and continued to apply his skills as a tradesman to various carpentry jobs around town and in remote locations over the years. These projects include work on apartments in Mountain View, Eddie’s Sports Bar, American Legion Post 28, Brooks River - Katmai National Park, Port of Anchorage, Anchorage Museum, Alaska Native Medical Center, Nixon Fork Mine, Mentasta Lake and friend’s homes. He spent many hours socializing with friends at AMVETS Post 2 and the Moose Lodge 1534. He was a life member of AMVETS.
Jim enjoyed meeting old friends as well as new ones, bowling, playing darts, playing pool, cooking, sharing recipes and reading old Alaska magazines. He especially enjoyed spending time with his family as well as fixing and building things. He applied his skill to many treasures over the years – most all of wood – that are heirlooms to his family.
He is predeceased by is brother Michael Joseph who passed at birth, his father Joseph, his mother Rosalie and son-in-law Alan L. Gage. He is survived by his brother Joseph Vculek of Wahoo, Nebraska, his sister Barbara Velinsky of Omaha, Nebraska, brother-in-law Charles Velinsky of Omaha, Nebraska, daughter Dalon Gage and grandsons Payton and Jarrett who reside in Carlton, Oregon, his daughter Janel Vculek who resides in Anchorage along with many nephews and nieces.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, July 11, 2014 starting at 5:00 p.m. at the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Valdez, Alaska. Please join family and friends to celebrate the life of this amazing man.
“My father didn’t tell me how to live … he lived and let me watch him do it.”