January 8, 2010
Anchor Point, Alaska 99556
Your Grandmother Terry and I were present at the time you were born in Lincoln, Nebraska. Your grandmother was by your mothers side at your birth. I was sitting in the lobby of the hospital with your sister, Heather and brother, Hunter. I was able to see you the first time about forty minutes following your birth. My father, Henry Laverne Harrington (your great grandfather) was born in a the small town of Benedict Nebraska, just a few miles from Lincoln. Your 2nd Great Grandfather (Henry Philo Harrington) was also born in Benedict. Your 3rd Great Grandfather (Henry Harrington) homesteaded the area of Benedict following the Civil War, he would donate sixty acres of his land to form the village of Benedict, Nebraska.
Your first name of Shane was also the first name of my oldest son and brother to your dad, his full name was Shane Scott Harrington, he was your Uncle. His first name was derived from an old western movie, titled "Shane". He was born on February 7, 1969 at Adak, Alaska. An island in the Aleutian Chain of Alaska. The island of Adak was a U.S. Navy Base in which I was stationed while serving in the Navy. There was no civilian community on the island. Unfortunately, he passed away at the age of 39 on October 22, 2008, one year and four days prior to your birth in Homer, Alaska. I am sure he was smiling proudly the day you were born, knowing that you would share his name.
Your second name, Rolland was the middle name of my brother, Henry Rolland (Tad) Harrington, your dad's Uncle and your Great Uncle. He was born on December 31, 1937 in Silver Creek, Nebraska, just a few miles from Lincoln. He passed away five months following the birth of Shane at the age of 32 on July 29, 1969 in Montrose, Colorado where he had moved to from Homer, Alaska for medical attention.
Your Uncle Shane and Great Uncle "Tad" as he preferred his nickname shared many of the same qualities and characteristics. They each passed away at a far to early stage in their life, but both lived life to the fullest. They were both similar in size and body structure. Each of them posed an infectious smile, always optimistic and cheerful. Each of them endured a terrible disease, yet they never let it interfere with their lives, they made the best out of a bad situation. Their attitudes were always "upbeat" and enthusiastic. Each of them were highly respected in the communities in which they lived and loved by all that knew them. I had a great deal of respect for each of them, I loved both of them dearly. They enter my thoughts on a daily basis. I cherish the memories that we shared.
From an early age, your Uncle Shane was adventurous and loved the outdoors. He was a gifted athlete starting out in Little League Baseball. He was selected and played on several "All Star" teams. He was a pitcher with an extremely hard, fast ball. He played high school football for the Homer Mariners in Alaska for four years.
His first love was in the sport of wrestling. He wrestled on the Homer Mariner Wrestling team for four years, as a freshman winning only one match. In his Sophomore year, he became a force to reckon with on the mat. In the next three years, he would win the Championship at the Homer Winter Carnival Tournament three times and numerous other tournament Championships. He placed second in two Regional Championships and was the Regional Champion one year. He wrestled in two State Championship Tournaments, winning second in State in one of those Tournaments. He set a number of school records in wrestling that withstood the test of time for several years.
Following his marriage to your Aunt Dana, the two of them played Co-Ed Softball on a team in Homer, Alaska. They won the City Championship two years and went onto win the State Tournament. They were each selected as "Player Of the Year" the same year.
Besides, four wheeling and snow machines, his love was fishing the Anchor River. He started fishing with me on the river at an early age, developed into a very good fishermen, and learned to love fishing for the aspect of fishing and not necessarily of catching.
He purchased property in the Caribou Lake area, east of Homer, Alaska. The only access was by four wheelers or snow machines in the winter. He transported all of his building materials to his property and built a nice cabin, which he loved.
After graduation from high school, he went to Mesa College in Grand Junction with a Wrestling Scholarship and major in Electrical Engineering. Sitting in class one day, he looked out the window and saw some students climbing power poles at the adjoining vocational school. He left college and attended the vocational school to get trained as a Power Lineman.
Upon graduation, he returned to Alaska. Not being able to work in Alaska as a Lineman because he had not attended the school in Alaska he hired on with Cable Vision. He worked in Nome, Alaska for a period of time prior to transferring to Homer, Alaska. Power Lineman was still his goal, he eventually was selected to attend the Lineman School in Alaska. Upon graduation for the second time, he worked in Anchorage and Kodiak Island as a Lineman. He would later transfer to Homer Electric in Homer, Alaska where he earned his Journeyman Lineman status. His dream was fulfilled and loved his job dearly. He was highly respected within the brotherhood of Power Lineman, all of them in attendance at his Memorial Service. With all the loves he had in his life, sports, outdoors, fishing, his work his true love was his girls, Dana, Marina, and Sierra. He was a good man, a honest man with a heart of gold.
From the time he could walk, he was sitting on a horse becoming a very good horseman in his own right. Before he was out of elementary school he was leading pack trains of horses loaded with camping supplies into the mountains of Colorado in support of our fathers primary business of big game guiding. In time, he would ride broncs, competition roping in rodeos, breaking and shoeing horses.
His high school education was interrupted several times when a "new" adventure would beckon our father. While in high school he would play football and was also on the high school boxing team, when they allowed boxing as a sport at the high school level. Tad was the smallest of the Harrington brothers. What he lacked in size, he made up for in heart and guts, he was not afraid to take on anything. He also had that infectious smile and personality that instantly won friends. He was well respected and admired.
In his Senior year in high school, he would live on a ranch in Aspen, Colorado and graduate from high school in Aspen. It was then that he and Mary Jane fell in love and eloped to New Mexico to get married in 1957.
In the winter, of 1953 our father decided to see Alaska during the winter. Again, Tad left school and spent the winter in Alaska with our father, camping out the majority of the time. In the spring of 1956, they once again came back to Alaska to work for Shell Oil Company. Our father, was a horse packer and "bear guard" for the early oil exploration crews on the Alaska Peninsula. Although, Tad was underage to hold a legal license to operate radio communications, he also went to work as a radio operator on the Shell Oil work boat the M/V Tempest.
In the spring of 1957, another adventure awaited. At the age of 20, he, his new wife, Mary Jane, and our brother Don would take a load of four mules north to Alaska. Going through Canada they would acquire two additional horses to fill out the load. To the best of our knowledge,it was the first truck load of mules taken over the Alcan Highway. The rest of our family would travel behind them by a couple of weeks. We would make Alaska our permanent home, returning to Colorado to live on our place in Colorado every other winter until it was sold. In the spring of 1962, your Great Uncle Rolland "Tad", our brother Don, and I would take a truck load of horses over the highway to Alaska. Again, as far as we know it was the first load of "Shetland Ponies" to be trucked to Alaska. While in Alaska, your Great Uncle worked in a variety of jobs including fishing canneries, forest fire fighting, radio operator, and working as a lineman for Homer Electric Association. The same company that your Uncle Shane worked for in later years. Prior to my high school graduation and joining the Navy, your Great Uncle and I commercially fished together for two years. We had so much fun and shared so many memories.
As did your Uncle Shane, your Great Uncle loved to fish for salmon on the Anchor River.
While working in the local "drugstore" during the winter, a group of students in high school wanted to start a wrestling program at the school. The school advertised for a Coach, your Great Uncle volunteered to coach the four wrestlers on the original team. He would remain their coach until he passed away. One of the members, Steve Wolfe, who was on the original wrestling team was the Coach of the Wrestling Team throughout your Uncle Shane's wrestling career in high school. In time, the school hired one of the teachers to assist in the wrestling program.
Prior to the end of the 1969 wrestling season, your Great Uncle had to return to Colorado for hospitalization for his battle against cancer. On the night of the State Championship matches in Alaska, a phone was put into your Great Uncles hospital room. Each of his wrestlers talked to him on the phone to let their "coach" know how they did. That year, the small school of Homer had four State Champions. Winning the title of Alaska Small School Championship. In 1986, at the Homer Winter Carnival Wrestling Tournament, which your Uncle Shane won the Championship in his weight class your Great Uncle Rolland "Tad" was the first member to be inducted into the Homer High School Wrestling Hall of Fame. Although, he was not an official staff member at Homer High School, the 1969 High School Annual was dedicated to your Great Uncle.
Like your Uncle Shane, your great Uncle Rolland "Tad" was highly respected and loved by all that knew him. He had a simple song that he would quite often sing to himself, I don't believe he knew all the words, but it was a Hank Williams song, the lines he always sang to himself was "live hard, die young, and leave a beautiful memory" both your Uncle Shane and Great Uncle Rolland "Tad" did just that.
Stanley R. Harrington
Chief Petty Officer, U.S. Navy, (Retired)