We lost a friend, a mentor, and a trailblazer of a historian at the beginning of January when Pat Roppel died. No one has done more to document the history of canneries in Alaska than Pat. From her seminal work, Salmon from Kodiak to her weekly columns that tracked the trajectory of canneries, salteries, and fishing boats published in the Capital City Weekly, Pat’s canon of work is voluminous and far-reaching.
But even her published work is a small indication of all that she did to document the industrial heritage of Alaska. Pat was so generous with her time and knowledge that her input and research found its way into many other works that she did not author. Pat often provided that missing piece of information, that elusive source, in order to make another author’s work more compelling.
Pat was a wife, a mother, a grandmother and a world traveler in addition to being a historian. From Roatan to Wrangell, from Santiago to Seattle, Pat’s intellectual curiosity extended to the world around her and she set out to satiate it with gusto. Please see her obituary to get a greater sense of her many accomplishments.
As a small act to commemorate Pat’s legacy, the upcoming Alaska Historical Society conference is calling for papers and presentations that honor Pat’s research interests. Fittingly, the conference will be held in Cordova, an area with strong fishing and mining connections. Please join us in Cordova this coming October as we reflect upon the work of the indomitable and irreplaceable Pat Roppel.