George Anthony Viltrakis
Born 9/26/54 in Ajo, Arizona, the oldest child of Anthony and Juanita Viltrakis, our loving husband, dad, and grandpa passed away, quietly surrounded by his wife and children on Feb 28, 2021. He was extremely proud of his Lithuanian and Cherokee heritage. His unwavering love for family and community will not be forgotten.
George was born into an Air Force family and lived in various states until his father was stationed at Vandenberg AFB, CA where he spent most of his childhood. He graduated from Minot High School in ND. After graduating, he worked in the mines in Silver City, NM where he had fond memories of living with his Uncle John and Aunt Rella. In 1975, he enlisted in the Air Force, became a medic, and honed his skills in oncology and emergency medicine. He was transferred to Eielson Air Force Base, AK in 1978 where he loved the challenge of the emergency room. George met his wife, Amy, the summer of 1979, while volunteering at Bingle Camp and they married later that year at Eielson AFB. He spent nearly 10 years in the USAF and then later transitioned to operating heavy equipment as an Airfield Clearing Operator/Supervisor on the Eielson AFB flight line until his retirement in 2017.
George loved Alaska and especially the Salcha community. For many years, George volunteered in the Salcha community, night and day, as a founding member of Salcha Rescue. George loved helping others in medical or rescue situations and was a certified EMT 3 and Swift Water Rescuer. He especially had a heart for pediatric trauma. His son, Luke, now continues his father’s volunteer tradition serving with Salcha Fire and Rescue. An active member of Salcha Baptist Church, George volunteered as music leader, youth group leader, and active in the “moose road kill” ministry.
The role he loved the most was that of “Santa’s Secret Agent” aka “Salcha Santa”. George also loved offering a sensory-friendly Santa for the Autism and special needs community. For years, he used a traditional Santa suit and white beard until the mid- 90’s when his mother-in-law, Sharon, created a unique Alaskan style Father Christmas outfit to match his naturally white beard. Multiple generations of children from Salcha, Eielson AFB, Fairbanks, and Anchorage grew up visiting him every December. He even made annual visits to Albuquerque, NM to be in the Adobe Acres Neighborhood Christmas Parade. In 2018, Santa made a special appearance for over a hundred preschoolers at his grandchildren’s school. Despite the difficulties of 2020, Santa visited Salcha School and the Salcha Store. On December 19, 2020, when it was 20 degrees below zero, he sat on the front porch of Salcha Store, with his wife, Amy and family friends acting as elves, seeing children and adults alike. Later, excitedly recalling the day’s events to family and friends.
In the last ten years, his adventures included fishing trips with family members, caribou hunting, and trips around Alaska. He lived vicariously through the retelling of fishing, hunting escapades, and his trip with his father-in-law, Carl and son-in-law, Hector on their “Guy’s Only” RV trip. Almost yearly, a NM trip was organized, usually in time for a large Christmas Eve gathering with Hector’s side of the family, complete with tamales, posole, and celebrating La Navidad at midnight. He was truly loved by this extended family. Other special trips included the NM International Balloon Fiesta, family reunions, and a cross-country road trip to see visit old friends and extended family.
Everywhere he went he had a story to tell, was ready to lend a helping hand, and ALWAYS wanted to know the most updated weather reports for the states where his children live.
He loved his children and grandchildren, who brightened each day and brought joy during challenging days. His last months were blessed with grandchildren encouraging him to tell stories, watch movies, and snuggle. Molly would bring him his daily coffee and Madison would walk into the house yelling “Hi, Papa.” He loved it when his grandchildren would share their latest news with him. Though he is gone much too soon, we are grateful for the opportunity to say goodbye and his peacefully passing to heaven. “There was always love in Daddy’s hands.”
Survived by immediate family: his wife, Amy Viltrakis; daughter Molly (Viltrakis) Poor with grandchildren, Lakota, Autumn, Madison; son Luke Viltrakis; daughter Lindsey Viltrakis; daughter Amanda (Viltrakis) Reyes and son-in-law Hector Reyes with grandchildren Noelia, Magdalen, Antonio, Father-in-law Carl Pearson, sister-in laws Betsy Pearson, Lynne (Pearson) and husband Dave Ryan with nephews Noah and Nathan. Survived by siblings Jim Viltrakis, David Viltrakis, Steve and Michelle Viltrakis, Mary and Chip Cooper, along with their families, Uncle John and Aunt Rella Bigbey, Aunt Kay Roberts, Uncle Don Hedrick, many cousins, and close family friends. Preceded in death by his mother, Juanita, father, Anthony, mother-in-law, Sharon, and many dear Alaskan friends.
A Celebration of Life will be held on June 26, 2021 at the Salcha Baptist Church picnic area. In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to Salcha Fire and Rescue.
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