Anne Elizabeth Birkholz

Anne Birkholz passed away Dec. 31, 2016. Mantle cell lymphoma returned and brought a swift conclusion to her life in December. Anne was active and social for almost all of her life. Her three sons and two daughters-in-law, along with the much-appreciated support of friends and a very capable hospice team, made her final days comfortable.

Anne loved animals and her faithful cat, Truman, sat with her to the end. She was born in Lewistown, Montana, on July 22, 1933, to Tyler and Helen Stapleton. She often spoke fondly of her youth on a farm, where she rode horses, helped with her father’s fox farm, climbed trees and swam in Spring Creek. Anne stayed in contact and visited relatives and friends in Montana throughout her life. 

Anne met her future husband, Norman Birkholz, while attending Montana State University in Bozeman. The growing family drove north to Fairbanks in 1959 with three young children, Ethan, Linda and Tyler, a German shepherd named Thor and a cat named Goblin.

Norman taught chemistry at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and also worked for the Alaska Department of Highways during the summer. While previously stationed at Fort Ladd in the ‘40s, Norman acquired 40 acres along the Old Steese Highway. Another son, Seth, joined the family in 1960.

The family moved to their homestead on the Steese Highway in 1961, where the family built a log home and lived for many years until the kids graduated from high school. Anne and her family have many fond memories of growing up in an era of few houses with lots of woods, maintaining a large garden and greenhouse, skiing, going on long walks, being involved with the 4-H community and always surrounded by numerous pets.

After her husband died in 1968, Anne bravely returned to school to complete her teaching credentials and became actively involved in the Fairbanks art community. She taught art at North Pole High School until she retired in June 1997. Anne enjoyed the outdoors and cross country skiing, traveled often, was a voracious reader, belonged to the potter’s guild with a passion for pottery, was active in the Pioneers of Alaska, PEO and the League of Women Voters.

Anne is survived by two brothers, Toby and Albert Stapleton; four children, Ethan, Linda, Tyler and Seth; and 10 grandchildren.

A celebration of life will be held in late January or February, the date to be announced later. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to support Hospice, c/o Fairbanks Community Hospital Foundation, P.O. Box 71396, Fairbanks, AK 99707.

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