Ralph Jokela Obituary

Ralph Bernard Jokela
Ralph Bernard Jokela

March 13, 1934 - May 17, 2020
Born in Baraga, Michigan
Resided in Anchorage, Alaska


Ralph took off for his next aviation adventure after a long battle with cancer. He was born on March 13, 1934, to Sylvia and Sulo Jokela in Baraga, Mich., and was the older of two sons. He came from humble beginnings and was an individual of the highest moral character and standards. So many people looked up to him. He was quiet and unassuming and exuded his beginnings.

Ralph grew up outside Baraga, in the Upper Peninsula, and graduated from Baraga High School in 1951. He worked in Detroit, Mich., for Chrysler Corporation in 1952-1953, and then joined the U.S. Army and served over 3 years as a radio operator with the Company C, 14th Armored Calvary Regiment during the Korean War. He was stationed in Germany for a year and a half and received the Army National Defense Service Medal. After an honorable discharge for the Army, he earned a Civil Engineering Degree and a Land Surveying certification from Michigan Technological University and met the first love of his life Joanne.

Ralph and Joanne were married on Oct. 10, 1959, in Los Angeles, Calif., and had four children: Mark, Mike, Kurt and Karen. In 1959, Ralph went to work as a Civil Engineer for the Los Angeles County Road Department and in 1970 moved the family to Alaska, which was his dream since childhood. He became a licensed Professional Engineer and Land Surveyor in Alaska and went to work for the Alaska Department of Transportation while concurrently building his family a beautiful A-frame home on the Anchorage hillside.

In the early 1970s, Ralph joined two friends to form the engineering firm Contracting Engineers and Associates, which was eventually operated by himself and his partner Don. Together they successfully designed numerous highways and roads along with developing subdivisions throughout Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley.

Ralph's real passion was aviation and was known for his involvement with airplanes. He earned his private pilots certification in 1975 and his seaplane rating in 1981. He owned a number of planes including a Piper PA-12, Cessna 170, Cessna 180 and his favorite, a Lake Buccaneer. He was a careful, calculating, extremely safe but adventurous pilot and used his airplanes to build his remote cabin and Finnish sauna on Amber Lake. He also made a number of trips from Alaska to Michigan, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Florida.

Ralph semi-retired in the late 1980s and built his second house on Long Lake in Willow, Alaska. His wife and mother of his children passed away unexpectedly in April 1996, but Ralph met his second love of his life Mary Ann and they married in March 1997. Mary Ann and Ralph were inseparable and traveled throughout the U.S. in their Class A motorhome and also flew his Lake Buccaneer down to Florida to have it repainted at the factory where Ralph received additional training. The entire family adores Mary Ann and she was beside Ralph until the end.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Ann Jokela; sons, Mike, Mark and Kurt Jokela; daughter, Karen Janke; son-in-law, Jon Janke; daughters-in-law, Goldie, Sue and Val Jokela; brother, John Jokela; granddaughters, Jessica and Jadee Jokela, Cassandra Petersen; grandson, Justin Dowling; and great-grandson, Dylan Dowling; as well as many more extended family members and friends.

A service is not planned, but in the near future the family will gather to spread his ashes along the flight path he would take into Amber Lake carrying supplies to his lakeside cabin.

His wife Mary Ann is grateful to Providence Hospice. Ralph caught flight 106 and took off on his next adventure. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to hospice near you in Ralph's name.

To plant a tree in memory of Ralph Jokela, please visit our Tribute Store.