Longtime Alaska resident James “Jim” Wilken, 72, died at his Eagle River home on March 21, 2012.
Wilken was a well-known member of the Eagle River business community who opened the Eagle River pharmacy in 1970.
He was born in Fort Madison, Iowa on Jan. 12, 1940, to Francis and Mary Ida Wilken. Upon graduation from Fort Madison High School in 1958, Jim played football at Burlington Junior College before continuing his education at the University of Iowa, where he graduated from the College of Pharmacy in 1964.
He moved to Alaska in 1969 and opened his pharmacy the following year.
According to Wilken’s son, Keith, the pharmacy was a business that, over the next 30 years, would become an indelible part of the community and serve as an instrument for Jim’s generosity, charity, and civic responsibility.
“It may not be well known that Eagle River’s first pharmacist would, in lieu of payment from those who could not afford their medication, accept items that most people would regard as nothing more than junk,” Keith Wilken wrote. “These acts of kindness and Jim’s faithful service at the pharmacy made it an Eagle River institution.”
The Eagle River Pharmacy also sponsored numerous youth hockey and baseball teams, community activities, and Iditarod mushers. Jim also served the community as a Parks and Recreation board member and was active in the Lions and Elks clubs. His professional and civic accomplishments were recognized in 1991, when he was awarded the prestigious Bowl of Hygeia by the Alaska Pharmacists Association.
An avid hunter, fisherman, and snowmachine enthusiast, Jim loved the Alaskan outdoors. Time spent away from the pharmacy was often devoted to sport fishing, as a charter boat captain, and occasionally commercial halibut fishing on his beloved Chris-Craft boat, “The Adventurer.” Jim’s favorite winter pastime was snowmachines, which he raced in the 1970s. In recent years, Jim enjoyed spending time on his property at Dawn Lake.
He is survived by his two sons, Kurt and Keith Wilken; two grandchildren, Jordan and Ashlan; and his adored Sara.
A remembrance service was held on March 30 at the Eagle River Lions Club.