Obituary: Charles ‘Tom’ Thomas Simpler

December 15, 1941 – January 9, 2022

Tom Simpler with his beloved dog Fletcher, atop Pillar Mountain overlooking Kodiak. Simpler family photo

Charles Thomas Simpler, “Tom,” a life-long Alaskan passed away peacefully on Jan. 9, 2022, spending his last hours watching a football game with his son-in-law.

Tom was born and raised in Cordova, Alaska, to Violet and Charles Simpler where his childhood consisted of subsistence hunting and trapping. He began commercial fishing in grade-school, seining on the Prince William Sound and gillnetting on the Copper River flats for the majority of his life. He obtained his Bachelors in Secondary Education from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In 1963 he married Arlene and they moved to Kodiak in 1965 where he would teach high school math and touch the lives of Kodiak students for decades.

Tom was energetic, meticulous, and kind. His passions included cross-country skiing, running and coaching basketball and he was an excellent craftsman. He was devoted to his family and community and was a dedicated leader to both the teachers’ and fishermans’ unions. He opened his home to guests and loved showing visitors sites on Kodiak Island, taking them on fishing adventures and hosting salmon dinners while telling stories from his life, and had a knack for delivering a great punchline.

Tom had an immense love for Kodiak and the surrounding waters. His early morning hikes with Arlene and their much-loved dog, Fletcher were something he enjoyed up until the last few weeks of his life.

From the words of Tecumsah, he “sang his death song and died like a hero going home.”

His family and community miss him greatly and plan on celebrating his life in the summer. He is survived by his partner Arlene; children: Karie Andersen and spouse Peter Andersen, Brett Simpler and spouse Kathy Simpler, Bronwyn Simpler, and Lewis Simpler; grandchildren: Emma Sampson and spouse Brent Sampson, Erika Andersen, Krista Simpler and Tosha Simpler; siblings and their families: Bob Simpler, Charlette Carroll and Cathie Nicolet; and of course, Fletcher.