Donna Krier

Donna Pease Krier

I was born at home on a small dairy farm on March 31, l930 in Easton Township, Adams Co. Wisconsin. I was the fourth and second surviving child of David and Marian Wickersham Pease. My younger brother was born four years later.

At the age of four, our family moved to a house owned by my grandmother. It was located in the small village of White Creek, originally named Cascade. This village was platted out in 1854 and later became an important stage stop so it had several hotels, general stores, a church, a school, grist mill, blacksmith shop and post office. It was pretty much a dying town during my growing up days but it was a wonderful place to grow up.

My grandparents owned a complete set of farm buildings on four lots in White Creek- had cows, chickens, pigs, etc. I helped with chores and helped drive the cattle up the road to the pasture- and home later in the day.

My parents bought a farm north of White Creek. I was 6 at that time and started school that year. My sister Ellen was in eighth grade. I remember how shy I was and scared to death of the teacher. I did well in school and became an avid reader and I especially liked all the stories about the North. Ellen had started high school which required her to live away from home. That left only my brother and I at home and we became very close, making it difficult for him when I left to attend school.

Electricity came to our area when I was about ten- no more lamps to clean, trim and fill. My grandparents had Aladdin lamps, we never did. Also, electricity meant no more filling the icehouse, washing clothes by hand, pumping water by hand, etc. All this came slowly as recovery from the depression was slow in coming to rural America.

World War 2 saw us with rationing, collecting paper, old rubber, aluminum, scrap metal, and saving our pennies to buy ten cent savings stamps. We also picked milkweed pods by the bagful as their contents were used in filling kapok vests.

Growing up, I helped my parents as they sold farm products in Adams, selling from house to house. We sold an assortment of things: My mother made doughnuts and cottage cheese-we also had fresh cream and dressed chickens- and in season there was a lot of fresh produce including asparagus, sweet corn, melons, squash, peas, and specializing in strawberries. I hated the peddling but my folks paid off the farm with those bags of coins- I don't remember seeing much paper money.

I was able attend high school and remain at home as the high school had buses by that time. I did well at school and played basketball and played in the band. Bus kids found it difficult to be in after school activities - we had to get home to do chores. Summers found me with my first job at the resort town of Wisconsin Dells. I got $2 a day and rarely had a day off. Many people of our area worked the summer jobs at the "Dells".

Ellen and I attended summer school at Madison, South Dakota and both had certificates to teach the following year. That year I taught in S.Dak. and she in Minn. I taught the next two years before returning to Wisconsin where I went to work at Liberty Powder Defense Corp. at Baraboo, Wis. and Jerry had joined the Air Force ant went to Lackland AFB, TX. Later he was attached to Scott Field, Il. while doing recruiting duty in St. Louis, Mo. Our oldest son Terry was born there and Greg was born after our transfer to Mitchell AFB, Long Island, NY.

Our only daughter was born after leaving the service and returning to Wisconsin where the kids got to know their grandparents. Life was OK but seemed like we were in a rut and my aunt and my cousins had left for Alaska a few years before and their letters were intriguing, to say the least. My cousin, Rick Becker visited us in 1958 and things got more serious about moving. The Beckers had all staked homesteads out on what today is known as Becker Ridge. That meant that their house in Lemeta was available rent-free for us until we had work. That pretty much sealed the deal- and we prepared for a long journey north. The trip is tale all its own- but we made it - arriving March 31st, 1959.

Jerry went to work the second day in town- we settled in and Alaska and Fairbanks became our new adopted home. In the mid-sixties we bought our first station and became Chevron dealers and remained so for many years. I earned my teaching degree in l964 and taught for several years. We were able to buy our first home in two years, living in the College area until 1968 when we bought our home on Chena Hot Springs Rd. where we still live today.

Our three children still live here. Greg is employed at the University, Debra is semi-retired, and Todd operates Totem Chevron. We lost our oldest son to cancer in 1983.

Jerry and I have been members of the Pioneers since 1989, serving as King and Queen Regents in 2006. I have been involved with Friends of Creamers Field (24 years), North Pole Santa's Seniors, Tanana-Yukon Historical Society (since the 60's) and the Pioneer Memorial Park Board (27years). I am a charter member of the Fairbanks Genealogy Society and was member of the Golden North Rebekahs before they surrendered their charter. I served two terms as president of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aux #1037.

My sister Ellen Nelson (see Senior Spotlight Story #1) and I volunteered at Santa's Seniors in the early years. We ran the "Bingo Kitchen" and were always happy to contribute to the many bake sales. I always loved to serve up a variety of sandwiches or concoct a huge kettle of soup for an event. Many local organizations depend heavily on volunteers and donations. That gives us all a chance to be useful. Even as we age, these organizations can use us if only for our advice- we've all been through a lot and should have some good advice to share.

I have been a lover of collectibles, antiques, and Alaskana all my life. I operated a small antique shop in the 80's. I was happy to participate in the Center's first Antique and Collectible Sale in the fall of 2014. I have Alaskan dolls, baskets, pottery, etc. in my collection. I also have lots of old sheet music.

I still hope to keep involved with Santa's Seniors although I can't be as involved as I once was. Age does slow us down, regrettably. We seniors do need to keep active and what better way to do it. Please consider being a volunteer. You won't regret it!

Alaska and Fairbanks have given me the life that has given me all that I could ever desire. I have hunted and fished in remote areas that were the most beautiful places in the world. I have traveled this beautiful state from one end to the other and have no favorites. It is all so special. Alaska, you are my home!

Story by Donna Pease Krier ~ Photo by Santas Senior Center

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