Pastor Tari Stage-Harvey offers an invocation during the annual Blessing of the Fleet and Reading of Names at the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial on Saturday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Pastor Tari Stage-Harvey offers an invocation during the annual Blessing of the Fleet and Reading of Names at the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial on Saturday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Loved ones gather for reading of 264 names on Fishermen’s Memorial and the Blessing of the Fleet

Six names to be engraved this summer join tribute to others at sea and in fishing industry who died.

Brett Van Alen was a commercial seiner and troller in Southeast Alaska, as well as a fisher for squid and sardines in California, who died last December aboard a boat at the age of 38, according to his father Ben. On Saturday members of Brett’s extended family gathered at the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial for an annual ceremony where his name was announced as one of the six that will be engraved into the memorial wall this summer.

The reading of the 264 names on the wall, including those being engraved this year, to honor people lost at sea and others involved in the fishing industry occurred following the 34th annual Blessing of the Fleet at the downtown wharf.

The names of six people who will be engraved in the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial wall this year are displayed as some of their family members mourn during a reading of the 264 names honoring people lost at sea and others involved in the fishing industry on Saturday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The names of six people who will be engraved in the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial wall this year are displayed as some of their family members mourn during a reading of the 264 names honoring people lost at sea and others involved in the fishing industry on Saturday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Ben Van Alen says he’s a deckhand on a commercial troller as well as a government fisheries biologist, and while no other members of the family are commercial fishers “I think I did a little bit” influence on his son becoming one.

“We’ve always been active around the water and then fishing locally, and he just took it up,” he said.

A printout of Brett’s name and the other five to be engraved — Stuart Rickey, Jeannie Hinchman-Hill, John Pavlik, Rudy Pavlik and Ron Hakala — were placed on the wall to signify their future permanent presence on the wall of the memorial that was established in 1991.

“Each had their own story, their own conclusion and a number of years in which to make the world a little better for having been here,” Carl Brodersen, president of the memorial board, said while presiding over the reading of names. “Some had many years for this, some far too few. But as with every name on this wall, we know each of them did make the world a little better because each was loved enough that someone saw to it that their names would be carved in stone so that we would all remember them.”

Family members of Ronald Hakala, a longtime commercial fisherman who died in April, prepare to lay a wreath on the sea from F/V Williwaw as the Juneau Pipe Band performs a sendoff during the annual Blessing of the Fleet on Saturday morning at the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Family members of Ronald Hakala, a longtime commercial fisherman who died in April, prepare to lay a wreath on the sea from F/V Williwaw as the Juneau Pipe Band performs a sendoff during the annual Blessing of the Fleet on Saturday morning at the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

The Blessing of the Fleet was offered by Pastor Tari Stage-Harvey of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church, speaking directly to more than 100 people at the memorial plus others — including those aboard the vessels being blessed — listening to her on VHF Channel 10. The blessings began with the F/V Williwaw, carrying family members of Hakala — a longtime longliner and crab fisher who died in April — who placed a memorial wreath into the sea as the City of Juneau Pipe Band performed in tribute.

Many aboard the procession of several other vessels that followed also cast flowers into the sea, followed by many more flowers provided by the Juneau Girl Scouts cast into the water by people gathered at the memorial as the list of names was read.

“Now may the spirit of the sea infuse every moment with wonder and awe,” Stage-Harvey said in a closing prayer after the last name was read. “May love wash every wound and heal every loss, and may joy greet us at our journey’s end.”

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at mark.sabbatini@juneauempire.com or (907) 957-2306.

People aboard the Blue Harvest drop memorial flowers into the sea during the annual Blessing of the Fleet at the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial on Saturday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

People aboard the Blue Harvest drop memorial flowers into the sea during the annual Blessing of the Fleet at the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial on Saturday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

People gather along the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial for an annual reading of names on the memorial and the Blessing of the Fleet on Saturday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

People gather along the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial for an annual reading of names on the memorial and the Blessing of the Fleet on Saturday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A woman casts flowers into the sea from dock next to the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial during the annual reading of names on the memorial and Blessing of the Fleet on Saturday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

A woman casts flowers into the sea from dock next to the Alaska Commercial Fishermen’s Memorial during the annual reading of names on the memorial and Blessing of the Fleet on Saturday morning. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

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