Jerry Eric Flodin
Jerry Eric Flodin, 84, passed away on August 19, 2021 in Fairbanks, Alaska. Although he was enthusiastically vaccinated, he died from a “breakthrough” case of Covid-19 after a two-week illness.
Jerry Flodin and his twin, Larry, were born in Everett Washington July 19, 1937, joining an almost 2-year-old sister, Mary Lou. Their parents, Swan and Rena (Baker) Flodin, were living near Granite Falls, Washington, where Swan was running a fledgling sawmill business. By 1942, lack of available timber forced the Flodins to move the mill to Plains, Montana where there was an abundant source of it.
Jerry, with brother Larry at his side, enjoyed a childhood that was wild and free, growing up in the Montana mountains, exploring and taking chances no ‘responsible’ parent would allow today. Somehow, they both survived. Jerry realized in high school that he wanted to go see the world and that he was an “independent kind of person” who wanted to earn his own way in life. His goal in life was to “make the world a better place than when I came here.”
Jerry started college at the University of Montana and while there met his wife, Janet Holling. “I liked Jerry,” she said, “because he always had a dozen ideas about how to fix things when they went wrong.” Jerry left Montana and moved to Chicago, where he lived and worked at a Quaker Settlement House while attending Roosevelt University. He graduated in 1959, married Jan in Missoula, MT on June 11 and the two headed to Alaska on their honeymoon. They planned to come back to the lower 48 and Jerry would join the Navy, fulfilling his desire to become a jet pilot. However, when Jerry tried to report for duty he was not accepted because he had injured his knees in a sledding accident. Indeed, most of Jerry’s friends and family have an adventure story with Jerry involving some kind of mishap.
The honeymooners stayed in Alaska, where Jan got a job managing a motel and Jerry worked in trailer sales. Since they never went back to Montana as planned, Jerry has always said, “we are still on our honeymoon!” Always the entrepreneur, Jerry noted that there was a lot of virgin timber around Fairbanks, and no full-scale sawmills in the area. He persuaded Larry to come to Fairbanks and start one, and Northland Wood Products was born. The first mill was out in the woods near their first timber sale. Later the mill moved to a location in Creamer’s Field and still later to its present location. Jerry always had new ideas for Northland Wood. He never retired from the business and even after turning the management over to others he continued to be involved.
Jerry was the driving force behind many wonderful adventures that included the whole extended family, such as getting a riverboat and exploring the rivers of Alaska, getting a motorhome to explore the lower 48, and, of course snowmachines for many adventures in wintertime Alaska, of which Arctic Man was an annual favorite. He and Jan bought a lot on the Salcha River, built a cabin and enjoyed many summer and winters there. He also took his family to live in Indonesia for a year while he worked for a lumber company. Jerry was a runner his entire life. He was still a regular at the gym even in his 80s and he ran the Equinox Marathon and other community running events every year for 40 years.
To further his life goal of helping to improve the world, in 1999, after the Kosovo War, Jerry spent a year in Kosovo doing relief work helping to rebuild houses and roads.
Jerry is survived by his wife Janet Holling Flodin, his twin brother Larry (and Gail) Flodin and sister Mary Lou Hermes. He is also survived by four children, Mike Flodin (and Anne Hafer), Sandra (and Steve) Lambert, Tracy (and Mirko) Flodin, Roger Flodin, and grandchildren Larkin and Abby Flodin, Paul and Philip Lambert, Corinna, Melissa and Jannis Flodin, Nicholas (and Heather) Flodin, and great-grand children Camden and Rory Flodin. He was preceded in death by his son Andrew Flodin.
From friendly hellos and a chat to decade-long friendships, Jerry’s life was focused on relationships and learning to understand the world. Each and every connection he had was a joy to him. Jerry had a big presence and was loved by many. He will be sorely missed.
Services will be held at Fairbanks Lutheran Church on Friday, September 10th at 2:00PM.
In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make an expression of sympathy, please consider a donation in Jerry’s name to the Fairbanks Resource Agency (https://fra-alaska.org) or Human Rights Watch (https://www.hrw.org).
For service information updates, please visit Blanchardfamilyfuneralhome.com or call Fairbanks Lutheran Church in the upcoming days.
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