Monday, May 13, 2013

Michael Alan Masters, BHS 1967

Michael Alan Masters, BHS 1967

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (AK) - August 19, 2007

Michael Alan Masters passed away at his home July 23, 2007.

Michael was born on July 7, 1949, in Burbank, Calif. He earned a B.S. degree at the University of California, Davis, in 1971, with majors in biochemistry and plant science. He earned a Ph.D. in physiological plant ecology at Duke University in 1978. During his doctorate studies he conducted research on alpine and arctic plants in the Beartooth Mountains in Montana and near Barrow.

He was a research associate for the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Alaska Fairbanks from 1978-1981, doing field work north of the Brooks Range. Between 1981-1986, he worked for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as a habitat biologist. From 1986 until his death, he worked for the Alaska State Virology Laboratory, first as a laboratory assistant and later as a microbiologist. Michael was highly respected at his workplace for his incredible wealth of knowledge, meticulous work ethic and ability to value everyone as unique individuals.

Michael had a profound love of nature and wilderness travel. He was an avid backpacker, kayaker and skier. He began backpacking in the Sierra Nevada Mountains while attending UC Davis and was active in the Alaska Alpine Club. He took many extended backpacking and kayaking trips throughout Alaska and coastal Mexico, often with friends, but sometimes solo. Among Michael's notable wilderness travels were his long solo trips, including the entire length of the Noatak, Kongakut, Nigu, Killik and Colville rivers. He also had wonderful adventures in natural areas in New Zealand, Costa Rica, Chile and Argentina, and he photographed total solar eclipses in Mexico and Colombia. Michael was an accomplished photographer, documenting his experiences with beautiful slides and sharing his passion for wild places.

After his first kayaking trip to Mexico, Michael decided to learn Spanish. He took classes at UAF, met with a local group to converse in Spanish, studied in Costa Rica and practiced until he attained fluency.

In keeping with his sincere desire to be a good steward of the Earth, Michael lived a simple lifestyle. He took great care to recycle and minimally impact the environment.

Michael was preceded in death by his parents Eldon and Adele Masters.

He is survived by his brother Neal Masters and sister-in-law Rose Masters of San Diego, Calif., as well as his beloved cat, Walden. He leaves an irreplaceable void in the lives of his many friends, who cherished Michael's gentle spirit, integrity and love of nature.

A celebration of Michael's life will be held at the Dog Mushers Hall on Aug. 26 at 4 p.m. There will be a presentation of some of his beautiful slides and a time for sharing photographs and memories, followed by a potluck. Please bring a dish to share along with pictures and stories.

For information, please call Barbara White, 457-1045 or Barb Powell, 479-3757.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Northern Alaska Environmental Center.

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