William (Bill/Willy) Paul Ridder, Jr., age 65 of Delta Junction, Alaska passed away on November 16, 2014 at the University of Washington Hospital with his loving wife Janis and friend David at his side.
Bill was born on February 27, 1949 to William Sr. and Helen Ridder of Wollaston, MA. And was the middle child of three.
Bill attended St. Ann’s School in Wollaston, MA and graduated from the 8th grade in 1963. He went onto Boston College High School in Dorchester, MA. graduating in 1967. From there, on to the University of Vermont (UVM) and graduated in 1971 with Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology. Shortly after graduation, Bill moved to Moscow, Idaho and attended the University of Idaho. Bill received a Master’s of Science degree, specializing and fish and wildlife science, which was obtained from University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Bill moved to Alaska in the mid 1970’s. He purchased 20 acres overlooking the Tanana River and the mountains known as the Alaskan Range. This is where he was to build his home. First, he built a wooden platform and lived in a tent while building his first small cabin. He lived in the cabin while building his house. He had no running water or sewer system. He hauled water for himself and his dogs. Bill cut logs from his property and had them skidded out by a horse team. He hired a young lady named Janis Fairbanks (his future wife) to peel the logs for him. Together they built the log house of their dreams to perfection, their place to call “home”.
Bill purchased a distance sled dog team and enjoyed running the team through the solitude of Alaskan trails. Later he became interested in sprint racing with his dogs and competed in many events throughout his life and was active in Delta’s Dog Mushers group.
On March 6, 1979, Bill became an employee of the State of Alaska, Department of Fish & Game, Division of Sport Fish as a Fisheries Biologist. A job in which he loved. Bill worked there for over 20 years and retired on December 31, 1999.
In 1988 Bill was cursed with liver cancer. He flew to Boston where his father was a retired surgeon, to have the best perform treatment and surgery. Bill fought hard and beat the odds as folks with this kind of cancer rarely live for 26 additional years.
Bill married the love of his life and best friend, Janis K. Fairbanks on February 12, 2000. The wedding was performed in their home with their best friends standing up for them and in attendance was their extended Alaskan family.
After Bill retired from the Department of Fish and Game, he and Jan purchased a motor home and traveled around the state of Alaska enjoying blueberry picking, camping, fishing and sightseeing trips. In 2011 they purchased a home on 20 acres in Siren, Wisconsin where they spent their winters.
Bill and his brother Matt spent their early years summering at the Ridder family lake front cabin located in Plymouth, MA. They nicknamed the cabin “Big Pink” in honor of their mother’s affinity for pink aluminum siding, and Bill and Matt’s affinity for the 1968 Rock album “Music From Big Pink”. Bill made several trips out east every year to open the cabin up in the spring, perform maintenance, vacation and close up for the winter. He loved the cabin and had wonderful life long memories of time spent there with family and friends. Big Pink was very important to Bill and he worked hard to keep it in the family where it stands to this day.
Bill loved and excelled at photography, woodworking, gardening, cooking, reading, 4 wheeling, snowmobiling, hunting, and fishing, but most of all he loved spending time with his wife, family and friends. Bill will always be remembered for his attention to detail, his perfectionism, his rugged individuality, and his witty and insightful personality. He was, without a doubt, a very special and unique person and will be missed by all that knew him.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents; William and Helen, his older sister Susan and younger brother Mathew. He has left behind his wife Janis, two step children; Yvonne and Michael both of Michigan, six step grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and his extended family he called friends.
Bill lived, loved, laughed and left. A celebration of life party will be held in the spring, 2015.