WILDA Ione (Koch) MARSTON
WILDA Ione (Koch) MARSTON
Wilda was born to Wilbur and Haley Koch in Woodburn, Ind., on Aug. 8, 1930. She attended a one-room schoolhouse, spent summers at Lake James near Angola, Ind., attended Concordia, and graduated from Indiana University in 1952. After graduating, she moved to Anchorage to teach. Wilda had fond memories of teaching at Anchorage Junior High on 5th Ave., now the site of the Performing Arts Center. In those days, teachers would pick up their mail at the Federal Building on 4th Ave. and retire to the Oyster Loaf across the street to read mail, drink coffee and have pie.
The beauty of Alaska captured her immediately. With a proposed thesis on the history of the Alaska Railroad, she was admitted to the University of Chicago to complete a graduate degree in history. In preparation, she attended an Alaska history class at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. There she met Brooke Marston. Brooke courted her that fall, walking on foot from Turnagain to Merrill Field, bringing cabbages from his garden.
Rather than returning to the Lower ’48 for a graduate degree, Wilda traveled south with Brooke on the Alaska Steamship Company’s “Denali” to Vancouver and from there by train to Indiana. They were married on Aug. 27, 1954, in Fort Wayne, Ind. Brooke worked at Parkview Hospital and the International Harvester Company while Wilda taught history and English at Concordia High School and Indiana Technical College.
Anxious to be home in Alaska, Brooke and Wilda drove the Alcan in 1956 with their Saint Bernard, Thor, in tow. They purchased and refinished the Lyn Ary Homestead log house which was located in what is now Lyn Ary Park. They had two children, Blythe and Erin. Wilda joined the League of Women Voters, where she made lifelong friends. Both she and Brooke also enjoyed the friends they made through the World Affairs Council.
When the ’64 earthquake destroyed their log home, Brooke and Wilda built a New England salt box style house on the new bluff, moving in in 1965.
Wilda served as Chairman of the Library Advisory Board during the bonding, design and construction of the Loussac Library. She also served as a docent and chair of the Museum Commission and the Anchorage Museum Foundation. She served on numerous municipal, state, university and historical preservation committees.
Wilda never lost her passion for history; few could keep up with her reading. She focused on Alaska and Northwest Exploration. That passion took Wilda and Brooke around the world, included following Captain Cook’s Third Voyage and multiple trips to Russia.
Wilda was inducted into the first class of Alaska’s Women’s Hall of Fame and was recognized by the University of Alaska Anchorage for her service to the community.
As Wilda anticipated, Alaska was her home for 66 years. She worked tirelessly to ensure that her family, home, city and state could be all that Alaska offers. She trusted that her family would continue to be enchanted by the beauty of Alaska and the opportunities that it provides.