Joseph (Joe) Young died peacefully at his home in Anchorage, Alaska, on April 11, 2014, from complications of a stroke suffered in October 2009.
Joe was born on Nov. 3, 1929, in Ione, Wash., to Harold and Barbara Young. He spent his early years in Montana. During the Great Depression, economic hardship forced his parents to place him and his younger sister in St. Thomas Orphans Home in Great Falls, Mont. He lived in the orphans home for six years. In 1944, when he was 14, he traveled in steerage by steamship to Anchorage where his mother lived. On the way up, he played poker to earn spending money. As a result of the hardship of his early years, he had a strong commitment to social justice and equality.
While attending Anchorage High School, he became an accomplished ski racer. Joe’s love of skiing and ski racing continued throughout his life. After graduating from Anchorage High School in 1947, he went to Aspen, Colo., and skied for the Aspen Ski Team. The next winter, he went to Sun Valley, Idaho. During the 1950s, he spent the winters in Sun Valley working as a ski instructor and ski patrolman and skiing for the Sun Valley Ski Team. He skied in the National Alpine Championships in 1951, 1954 and 1955. During the summers, he worked as a lineman in Anchorage. Joe was an excellent poker player and supplemented his income during those years by gambling. He was drafted in 1951, but not even the Army could get in the way of his skiing career. He was stationed in Germany and raced throughout Europe as a member of the Army International Ski Team.
In September 1954, he married Mary Louise (Pudj) Johnson in Anchorage. In the early ’60s, he started Joe Young Ski School and taught hundreds of Anchorage baby boomers how to ski at Alyeska and Arctic Valley.
At the age of 31, he decided to go to law school. About that decision, he said, “I woke up and had a wife and a couple of kids and all I knew how to do was slide down hills and climb poles.” Although he did not have an undergraduate degree, he scored high enough on his law school admissions test to get a waiver. He moved his young family to California to attend the University of Santa Clara Law School, graduating in 1964. In the ’60s and ’70s, he practiced law in Anchorage with the firm of Atkinson, Conway, Young, Bell and Gagnon. In the ’80s and ’90s, he practiced with the firm of Young and Sanders.
As a lawyer, he specialized in representing widows, orphans and people who had been terribly injured through corporate negligence. He waged successful courtroom battles against such corporate giants as Eli Lilly, Volkswagen and McDonnell Douglas. Joe was named as one of the 80 top trial attorneys in the country by Town and Country magazine and was included in “The Best Lawyers in America.” He was also a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates, an exclusive, invitation-only national group of top trial lawyers. He was a recipient of the Alaska Bar Association Award for Professionalism.
In the early ’90s, he retired from the practice of law to devote more time to his first passion, skiing. He and Pudj spent most of the year at their home in Sun Valley. During his retirement years, he raced in a number of National Alpine Masters races. In the summer, he enjoyed hiking the mountains of Idaho with his daughters, grandchildren and dogs.
Throughout his life, Joe enjoyed fishing, duck hunting and boating. He especially enjoyed spending time with his family at his cabin on Kachemak Bay. He was a very devoted father and grandfather. The highlight of his last year was the birth of his first great-grandchild. Although he faced many challenges after his stroke, he never complained. His high school yearbook described him as “handsome and good natured” and he remained that way all his life.
He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Pudj, of Anchorage; daughters, Kristen Frampton of Anchorage and Kari Young of Sun Valley; son-in-law Chad Frampton of Anchorage; grandchildren, Caroline Huntley (Ehrich) and Erik Frampton of Anchorage and Annabel Webster of Sun Valley; and great-granddaughter, Audra Huntley of Anchorage. A brother, Noel Young, of New York City, also survives him. His sister, Judith Wise, and half-brothers, Michael Young and Jack Midyett, preceded him in death.
The family is grateful for the loving care provided by Pua, Malia, Uso and the rest of “Team Joe” who cared for him during his last years. Memorial donations may be made to the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation at www.svsef.org. A celebration of life will be held in Anchorage in May and this summer in Sun Valley.