Jim Richardson, 88, an original member of the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm Corridor Communities Association passed away January 3, 2016. He and his wife, Pinkie (Muriel) had just moved from Alaska to Washington.
Years ago, a group of Alaskans from the eastern Kenai Peninsula were traveling on the East Coast and noticed an interesting group of places known as National Heritage Areas. These areas celebrated the heritage and culture of a geography that was significant in the forming of our nation. Jim heard about National Heritage Areas at a Kenai Peninsula Historical Association meeting. He and others started to rally around a National Heritage Area for Alaska to celebrate the rich history of the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm. The group formed the KMTA Corridor Communities Association and organized the efforts to receive the Congressional designation for a National Heritage Area in Alaska.
For nearly a dozen years, Jim Richardson and other co-founders of the KMTA CCA advocated for the National Heritage Area designation. The designation came with grant funds to support grass-roots, community projects that would tell the story of the region. Finally, in 2009, with Senator Lisa Murkowski introducing the legislation, President Obama signed the bill that formed the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage area.
Jim Richardson was involved in the National Heritage Area until his retirement from the Board of Directors in May of 2015. At his retirement celebration, he expressed how gratified he and his wife, Pinkie, were to watch the KMTA NHA grow into a program that benefited the people and communities of the region.
Jim came to Alaska in February 1964. Pinkie and their children joined him a month later on a memorable day in Alaska’s history. Just two hours after their plane landed at the Anchorage airport, the 1964 Earthquake rocked the region – the largest earthquake on the North American continent to date. The Richardson’s were long-time volunteers in the community. Along with the National Heritage Area, they helped establish the Camp Fire program in Alaska. Jim attended Oregon State University where he earned Bachelor and Master degrees in forestry. He retired from the Bureau of Land Management in Alaska in 1985. He is survived by his wife, Pinkie, and two children, Katheryn McKinney and Brit Ritchey.
The Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm is indebted to Jim and Pinkie Richardson, along with other founding members, for their work in the creation of Alaska’s first and only National Heritage Area.