Jeff Bayless, 51
Jeff Bayless, 51, a senior captain with the Anchorage Fire Department and a fourth generation Alaskan, died March 7, 2014, after collapsing during a training exercise.
A viewing and visitation was March 14 at Evergreen Memorial Chapel. A Remembrance Service took place March 15 at the Egan Center in downtown Anchorage. Pastor Paul Steiner of Tree of Life Church in Palmer officiated. The service was preceded by a Fire Department Funeral Procession. A second service was at the Glennallen Chapel on March 16. His body was laid to rest on Mission Hill in Glennallen, in sight of his old stomping grounds.
Jeff was born on November 8, 1962, in Glennallen, Alaska and grew up in Copper Center. His father’s family was involved in gold mining in the Forty Mile country of Chicken and Franklin, helping settle the area, building the road, and providing transportation. Jeff spent most of his adult life in the Mat-Su Borough.
Jeff graduated from Glennallen High School in 1980 and then from Alaska Bible College in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in Christian education and camp administration. In 1986, he completed a paramedic training program at The Oregon Health Sciences University, and three years later earned an associate’s degree in nursing from Regent’s College in New York through a distance learning program.
His medical interests began at the age of 18 in Glennallen, where he trained and volunteered as an emergency medical technician. After completing paramedic training in 1986, he spent the late 80s working as a paramedic for the Tillamook County General Hospital Ambulance Service in Oregon. When he returned to Alaska in 1989 after having married, he worked first as a registered nurse in the ICU at Providence Hospital in Anchorage and volunteered on the side with the Mat-Su Borough as a volunteer paramedic and firefighter. He then became an EMS training coordinator for the Borough before moving on to the Anchorage Fire Department. Over the years he volunteered periodically as a nurse at Cross Road Medical Center in Glennallen.
Jeff began his career with the Anchorage Fire Department in 1991 as a paramedic, later becoming a firefighter-paramedic, and then advancing through the ranks of engineer and captain to his final rank of senior captain. During his eight years as senior captain, he first oversaw the Airport Heights station, then the fire station on Huffman, and for the last three years was at the Eagle River fire station.
His family said, “Jeff loved his job, thrived on firehouse life, and cared deeply about his crew. He savored the Alaskan lifestyle and enjoyed photography, fishing, hunting, hiking, boating, canoeing, and shooting. He worked out consistently and was fit and strong to the end of his life. He enjoyed young people, and throughout his lifetime worked with church youth groups and youth camps. He is warmly remembered by many for his guided canoe trips for groups of young people down the Little Su and Yukon Rivers. He was actively involved in church community life. Jeff will be remembered most for his kind and humble heart. He was a loyal and encouraging friend to many.”
He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Howard and Alice Bayless of Copper Center; grandmother, Ella Hill of Tillamook, Oreg. and formerly of Anchorage; and nephew, Brandon McCrary of Copper Center.
He is survived by his wife of almost 26 years, Gail Bayless of Anchorage; mother, Patsey Bayless of Anchorage; father, William Bayless of Costa Rica; sisters, Leah Custard of Bend, Oreg., Cynthia Starnes of Anchorage, Rebecca Bayless of Wasilla; and brother, Gregory Bayless of Stanwood, Wash; grandfather, Ed Hill of Hayden, Idaho; cousins, Jerry Cronk of Copper Center and Julie Counter of Anchorage;10 nieces and nephews; and 5 great-nieces.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Downtown Soup Kitchen, 240 E 3rd Ave, Anchorage, AK 99501 or the Food Pantry of Wasilla, 501 E Bogard Rd, Wasilla, AK 99654. In Glennallen, donations can be made to Cross Road Medical Center, P.O. Box 5, Glennallen, AK 99588.
Arrangements were with Janssen Funeral Homes.