Merritt Helfferich, 83, a longtime supporter of KUAC, passed away May 2 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
A former associate director of the Geophysical Institute at UAF and project director of the International Arctic Research Center building project, Merritt said in the past, “Public broadcasting is important every day. The information brought to the public by KUAC FM and TV provides a well-reasoned interpretation of events that affect the lives and livelihoods of citizens. It presents an intellectually stimulating and exciting schedule of programming.”
He served on KUAC’s Community Advisory Council from July 2010 to June 2013.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Merritt grew up with strong willed women; one grandmother was the first woman state senator elected in Connecticut and his other grandmother earned a bachelor’s degree and worked at a college until she was 95. In 1958, Merritt drove up the Alaska Highway to finish his checkered education career by getting a bachelor’s degree in English at UAF. Along the way, he worked as a firefighter, student radio station announcer, editor of the student newspaper, heavy equipment operator and surveyor.
Eventually, Merritt earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University and served in numerous impressive community capacities.
Merritt’s wife, April Crosby, said, “Merritt strongly believed in spreading joy and he would not want us to be sad. There will be a big celebration for him in Fairbanks in June and we’ll plant a huge number of trees in Gila. Thank you all for the happy times you’ve shared with Merritt.”
Gretchen Gordon, KUAC’s assistant general manager and director of development, outreach and FM, said, “I learned something new every time I had a chance to sit with Merritt, whether it was how to make KUAC better through his service on our Community Advisory Council or how to serve our community together in Rotary. I loved the opportunities to talk with Merritt, his mischievous grin and the light in his eyes when he had a clever thought just bubbling to share. I am better for having known and learned from Merritt. I think we all are and we will miss him.”