Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, July 24, 2011

Alfred will be remembered by friends and family for his masterful storytelling, and for his sweet nature and devotion to his family

Alfred Skondovitch, 84, died July 15, 2011, at Providence Hospital in Anchorage of complications from a fall earlier in the week. He was a 53-year Fairbanks resident. He went peacefully and was surrounded by his family.

He was born in London on Feb. 10, 1927, the youngest of five children, to Herschel and Mahlia Skondovitch. As a child during World War II, he was evacuated from London to the countryside to escape the bombings. He saw great works of art at a nearby castle, where his love of art was formed. Following his return to London he attended a technical engineering school and then art school. His older brothers boxed semi-professionally and he wanted to do the same, but a teacher, on seeing his artistic potential, guided him toward the arts.

Alfred came to New York City in 1947 with a letter of introduction from an art instructor who had a connection there. This led to his immersion into the abstract expressionist art scene, and to make ends meet, he worked as a tailor, a skill his father taught him. He gained critical acclaim in New York, working and showing with some of the great abstract expressionists.

But eventually, seeking a less stressful environment, he left for California. While there, adventurous friends persuaded him to join them in going to Alaska for seasonal work fighting forest fires. This led him to Fairbanks, where he met Patricia Mae Howard. They married in 1963. Their 48th wedding anniversary would have been on Aug. 24.

Through his years in Fairbanks, Alfred worked many jobs: he was in radio and TV advertising; was a proud Teamster surveying on the pipeline; and ran an engineering technical supply company. In the 1970s, he was the voice of H. Salt Esquire Fish & Chips on KFRB, and on KFAR he gave a weekly book review from the Borealis Book Shop. He also did the voice of opinion hotline on KIAK, asking you to "Practice Your Constitutional Rights!" During these years, he continued to paint, and after retiring in 1989 he gave his full attention to painting.

His contributions to the community included mentoring other artists, serving as president of the Pioneers of Alaska Igloo 4 in 2001, and involvement with local youth boxing as a referee, coach and judge.

A few weeks before his death, the UAF Art Department interviewed him for their video archives, an occurrence for which his family is extremely thankful.

Alfred will be remembered by friends and family for his masterful storytelling, and for his sweet nature and devotion to his family - especially to Patti, his "Honeylamb." We will miss his sense of humor, his impulse to dance when the music moved him, and, to the end, how he delighted in watching little kids playing. But most of all we'll miss watching him and Patti dancing together.

Alfred is survived by his wife, Patti; son and daughter-in-law, Sidney and Leslye Skondovitch; grandchildren, Mitchell and Shelbey Skondovitch, all of Anchorage; and daughter and son-in-law, Lara and David Duke of Redondo Beach, Calif.

Alfred will be laid to rest atop Birch Hill, overlooking his beloved home and wife.

A Pioneers of Alaska service will be held on Friday, July 29, at 4:30 p.m. at the Elks Lodge.