Obituary of Ed Bilderback
The lifelong sourdough hunter, fisherman, logger, trapper, miner; Ed E. Bilderback, age 84, from Cordova Alaska, died on January 30, 2011, in Anchorage, Alaska. He is survived by his children; Dan Bilderback of Anchorage, Donee Bilderback-LeBeau of Ketchikan, and Brian Bilderback of Roseburg, OR. Also by his sister Ethel Johnson of Cordova; and grandchildren Shay LeBeau of Ketchikan, Luke LeBeau of Chandler, AZ, Jesse LeBeau of Burbank, CA., Sage Bilderback of Anchorage, and his great grandson, Trejan LeBeau, Chandler, AZ.
Ed was born in 1926 in Port Townsend, Washington, and lived there till his family moved to Ketchikan, Alaska when he was 9 years old. He and his brother Don Bilderback helped their father with an independent logging operation where they sold trolling & telephone poles, as well as logs to the spruce mill in Ketchikan. They began hunting & trapping at early ages, and won many prizes over the years that where offered locally.
After serving in the Army during WWII, Ed & Don purchased the Hansen Boat ‘Valiant Maid’ in 1948. They relocated to Prince William Sound and began commercial seining there. Over the years Ed also used that boat for seal hunting, charters, delivering mail during the winter months in the Sound, big game guiding (to the likes of good friend, Fred Bear, the archery king) and as a base for trapping for fur as well as for live animals for the zoo’s in the lower ’48 (He sent live wolverines, bears, and land otters). His exploits took him as far as Unimak Island on the Alaska Peninsula, to the southeast waters of Ketchikan. There are several films that still show on the Outdoor Channel, of some of these early adventures.
In 1966, Ed took his seine boat to Hawaii to fish crab, and charter with the University of Hawaii till 1979, where he then returned with the boat to Alaska. While in Hawaii he took up archery, and loved hunting the lava fields in the mountains at Pouhakuloa, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Fresh sheep, goat, and pig where always handed out to friends during those years. He brought many hunting friends from Hawaii back to Alaska to fish and hunt, and it was arguably the best times of their lives! Also during that time period, he still leased other boats & fished each summer in Alaska. Later, after helping with clean-up on the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Ed refurbished the Valiant Maid to it’s former glory.
In his later years, Ed concentrated his time and energy to placer gold mining out of Cape Yakataga, on the Gulf of Alaska. It’s rugged beauty and rustic/primitive charm fit perfectly with his pioneering spirit! Many great adventures and sunny summer days were enjoyed by family & friends with him there.
Ed always did exactly what he wanted to in his life, and made his living doing all the things he loved! He was a doer, a giver, a sharer, an encourager, and a living inspiration. To the old timers he was an acknowledged leader, and to the “young-timers” he was considered a living legend. He truly lived life with an exclamation mark! His keen wit, great sense of humor, incredible background, and enthusiasm for life made him a favorite with all who knew him. He enriched the life of so many of us. We salute this great man, and will keep his memory alive in our hearts for years to come. Thank you Ed, for sharing some of your greatness with those of us who have known you, and loved you, all these years. As you’ve always said, “Happy trails………until we meet again”.