Delmar (Del) Becker, age 78, lost his long battle with Alzheimer’s disease on Jan. 25, 2019, at North Central Health Care Center, Wausau, where he resided the past year. Del was born in Athens, on March 17, 1940, to Anna (Boehm) and Herman Becker. He was one of eight siblings. After graduating from Athens High School in 1958, he married Marilyn Janke on Feb. 7, 1959. Together they raised three children, daughter, Julia Ann (Kerry) Walcott; sons, Scott Jerome, (deceased 1989) and Michael Thomas (deceased 2009). Del and Marilyn would have been married 60 years on February 7. They shared so many adventures during their life together.
In 1958, just out of high school, Del started his lifelong career in construction. He got his start operating a backhoe with Janke Construction installing sewer and water pipes in Wausau and all-round the state. When Janke Industrial Marine began, Del was operator and foreman on many projects on Janke’s barges on Lake Michigan, placing water intake pipes in the lake bottom for the cities of Kewaunee, Racine, Kenosha, Cudahy and the University of Milwaukee; also, Houghton and Hancock, Mich., and other cities. Del received a Tugman’s license for the Great Lakes and operated Janke’s tugs for the lake projects. His inventiveness and ingenuity greatly assisted in the company’s success.
In 1974, Del traveled to Alaska to work on the Great Alaskan Pipeline for several years, mostly near Prudhoe Bay. He fell in love with the scenery, animals and especially the people of Alaska. He worked on additions to the dock in Anchorage for a year. He then bought a crane, and his business, Del-Mar Inc. began. His jobs in Alaska consisted of first bailing gravel to construct a float-plane strip in North Pole Alaska, then installing sewer and water pipe on Mount Alyeska. He began contracting projects with the Corps of Engineers in Alaska, building fuel storage tanks in many villages on the west coast of Alaska. There are no roads across the huge mountain ranges from Anchorage and Fairbanks to these villages, so he bought airplanes to transport his employees, equipment and materials. Coordination took extreme efficiency because of the remoteness and inaccessibility, but Del thought it was very adventurous and he excelled at it. He then contracted with the U.S. Coast Guard to remove fuel storage tanks from the Coast Guard Air Base on Kodiak Island, where he and his sons dug up 63 ea. 25,000-gallon aviation fuel storage tanks and transported them by barge and sold them to villages on the west coast of Alaska. He and his employees also built a huge dock in Dillingham for a fish processing company and another one in Kenai. One of the most interesting projects was insetting a huge doorway near the top of a mountain in Snittisham, 40 miles south of Juneau, Alaska, because of heavy snowloads making the door inaccessible in winter. They also adapted the facilities that provided the City of Juneau with electricity produced by energy from a glacial lake located on top of the mountain they worked on. The men had to be flown to the jobsite by helicopter every morning for work. Since there were no places to live at the site, Del leased a tour boat where he and Marilyn and all the employees lived until project completion. There were many other adventures in Alaska. He worked on and even almost bought a working gold mine northwest of Fairbanks.
Eventually in the 1990s when the jobs in Alaska began to decline, he moved his business to Wisconsin and contracted several jobs in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. Most notably were once again projects with the Corps of Engineers, doing repairs and reconstruction of several locks and dams on the Mississippi River, and other projects. He also had two other businesses: Del-Mar General Contracting, Inc, and D. Becker, Inc.
When Del’s health began to fade, he and Marilyn closed their businesses and he began work for other contractors on the Keystone Gas Pipeline throughout the western states. Del and Marilyn would frequently travel back to revisit the Alaskan wilderness they fell in love with, the last time in 2011. At this point, his illness was becoming worse. Del was most happy as Mr. Fix-it, welding, repairing and adjusting various mechanical apparatus’ and using large machinery to accomplish large tasks were his passions. He would dream of gold prospecting, raze his daughter’s home and help rebuild it, and teased and played with his grandchildren, and once finally retired, he would often still be found tinkering with a variety of things in the garage or taking his dogs for rides on the ATV around the 10 acres of property he and Marilyn lived on and loved in Town of Stettin near Wausau. But part of his heart was always in Alaska. The saying is “When you go to Alaska you always leave a part of your heart”….
Del is survived by his wife, Marilyn; daughter, Julie (Kerry) Walcott; grandchildren, Tiffany Mattila-Hass, Michael Newman, Saskia Walcott, Anna Becker and Skyla Walcott; sister, Irma (Lee) Parmer; brother, Dale Becker; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Del was preceded in death by his two sons, Scott J. and Michael T.; father and mother; brothers, Alfred and Orville; and sisters, Marcella Cook, Verna Groff, and Dorothy Gruelke.
Marilyn wishes to thank Aspirus Hospice for their care before Del’s death, and to North Central Health Care Center, Gardenside Center, for the exceptionally loving kindness and compassionate care of all the nurses and staff, who became so much like his family.
A celebration of Del’s life will be held for family, friends, and neighbors at Del and Marilyn’s home on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. There will be an open house from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a light lunch.
John J. Buettgen Funeral Homes Mid Wisconsin Cremation Society is performing cremation. His ashes will be dispersed in Alaska.