In the outdoor gear at Bill Stroecker’s estate sale was a pair of Athabascan-style moccasins. With a double sole of smoke-tanned moosehide and heavy canvas uppers, they had ample room for not only his big feet but also the insulation needed at 50 degrees below zero.
This was ideal footwear for a favorite activity — snowshoeing to one of his remote cabins in the middle of winter. Stroecker’s other passion was his community. For most of his 90 years, he worked behind the scenes for Fairbanks groups and institutions, including the university. When he died in 2010, he left about $25 million to a foundation that will benefit a wide variety of organizations.
Stroecker’s father, Ed, came to Fairbanks in 1904, just two years after the town’s founding as a supply post for miners. Ed married Mattie Creamer, whose father founded Creamer’s Dairy. Bill was born in 1920.
In 1938, Stroecker attended New Mexico Military Institute for two years before returning and finishing up a business degree at the University of Alaska. During World War II, Stroecker served in the Army in Alaska and Canada.
He then went to work for the First National Bank of Fairbanks, where his father had worked up from teller to president. Stroecker himself became president in 1967.
He married Eleanor Wagner in 1957, bringing five stepchildren into his family.
After KeyBank bought First National in 1978, Stroecker continued as a vice president in his ground floor office at the corner of First Avenue and Cushman Street. He held the position until his death.
Stroecker served for decades on the boards of the local Salvation Army and the Alaska Goldpanners baseball team. During all this time, he played trumpet in local bands.
Stroecker walked to work every day. At 77, he retraced his grandfather’s gold rush-era steps across the Chilkoot Pass trail.
More online about Bill Stroecker:
- His obituary in the Nov. 11, 2010, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
- A News-Miner editorial eulogy from Nov. 9, 2010.
- A 2014 Alaska Dispatch News article by columnist Dermot Cole about the Stroecker Foundation.
- A brief article and video describing the Stroecker Foundation’s contributions to the university.
- A brief profile published upon his receipt of the 2007 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the UAF Alumni Association.