Henry Aristide "Red" Boucher, fondly known by many as just "Red," at the age of 88, left this world behind to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on June 19, 2009.
His favorite Bible verse was Isaiah 40:31, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint." All who knew Red observed that he lived this verse during his life on Earth.
Red was born in Nashua, N.H., on Jan. 27, 1921, to Helen Isabel Cameron and Henry Aristide Boucher. His father, who was an engineer and soldier in WWI, died soon thereafter as a result of having been hit with mustard gas at Verdun. His mother was one of the first chief petty officers in the Navy. Red received his nickname from President Franklin Roosevelt, who picked this tousled red-haired lad up and after hearing his full name, said "They ought to call you Red." His mother came down with multiple sclerosis resulting in Red and his brother being placed in St Vincent's Orphanage in Fall River, Mass. With his mother's permission and his military heritage, Red enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17. He served aboard the Enterprise in the Pacific during WWII as an expert signalman and a meteorologist and achieved the rank of chief petty officer. He served during Midway and numerous other battles for a total of 20 years in the Navy, including a stint on the aircraft carrier Saratoga as chief petty officer for communications and meteorology.
An upcoming politician from Massachusetts asked Red to help him campaign in the Portuguese district of the state, an area in which Red was quite popular. Red did and helped John F. Kennedy win the Senate race. Kennedy suggested that Red head to Alaska where there was great potential.
Here was a young energetic serviceman who had taken his mother's deathbed advice to "stand up straight and give it all you've got all of the time" and he now had some direction in which to head. He had served his country in war and peace and had the medals to prove it. He had been married twice and had four children. He had tried briefly to sell mutual funds on Wall Street, but Alaska was enticing to him.
With his third wife, they headed north to Fairbanks, arriving in 1958. He opened Pan Alaska Sporting Goods in 1959. He and his wife, Heida, had five children. Red entered Fairbanks politics and served on the city council and then as mayor in 1966. He was mayor during the 100-year flood of 1967.
From 1970 to 1974, Red served as the Lt. Governor of Alaska with Governor Bill Egan. During this time, he traveled across the country presenting Alaska's views on constructing the trans-Alaska pipeline.
In the mid 1970s, he set up a consulting service in Anchorage connecting outside businesses to Alaska opportunities. He married his current wife, Vicky Elkins Boucher, who was raised in Steamboat Springs, in 1976.
He was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 1984. He helped create, and served as chairman, of the House Special Committee on Telecommunications. After several terms in the Legislature, he did not slow down. He was an Anchorage Assemblyman. He was on the Chugach Board of Directors. He started Alaska Wireless Technology when he saw the possibilities wireless communication offered. Red worked as a consultant for Compaq/HP Computers and convinced them, along with AT&T, to provide wireless broadband connectivity with computers for Toksook Bay and Aniak.
In 1999, Red was inducted into the National Baseball Congress Hall of Fame for Red's contributions to baseball. In 2000, Governor Knowles awarded him the Alaska Distinguished Service Medal. In 2003, he received an honorary doctorate of letters degree from University of Alaska Southeast. In 2007, the Alaska Democratic Party presented him with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his public service to this state. This year, he was inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame for his promotion of baseball in Alaska. The Alaska Society for Technology in Education honored him and established a scholarship fund in his name, supporting outstanding Alaskan students pursuing technology-related post-secondary education or training.
Red suffered a debilitating stroke in 2005, and since that time, his wife Vicky and daughter Lara cared for him at home. This did not stop him from offering words of encouragement to all who came to see him.
Each year, during the baseball season, AT&T sponsors a Red Boucher night at Mulcahy Stadium. Red made it out in his wheelchair last year. This man of great stature who continued to inspire people of all ages and occupations throughout his life, who loved Alaska with all his heart and energy, who loved telecommuting with his children and grandchildren, whose heart was melded with Vicky, his steadfast companion of 33 years, and whose love of the Lord was held above all things is now free of any bodily encumbrance, free to rise up on wings of eagles.
He is survived by his wife, Vicky; 12 children, Carl Boucher, Helen Loudenback, Michele Fiskum (Steve), Suzanne Donati (Bob), John Boucher (Heidi), Johanna Keys (Jeff), Jacqueline Boucher, Jamie Boucher (Si), and Jennifer McNelly (Greg), Desiree Christianson (Zach), Domini Lasecke, and Lara Boucher. There are 27 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. Red also is survived by his brother, Ewen.
A Celebration of Life service was held June 26 at ChangePoint Alaska, 6689 ChangePoint Drive, Anchorage. Pastor Wayne Coggins, Red's brother-in-law, officiated. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the H.A. Red Boucher Scholarship Fund at The Alaska Community Foundation, 400 L Street, Suite 100, Anchorage, AK 99501 or online at www.alaskacf.org.
Red will be laid to rest at the Fort Richardson National Cemetery with full military honors.