Long-time Alaskan Peter Allen Lekisch died on December 27, 2013, due to complications from surgery to correct atrial fibrillation.
Peter was born in Midland, Texas on January 7, 1941, to Dorle and Kurt Lekisch, M.D., F.A.C.P. He grew up participating in all school sports, especially enjoying football. During the summer of 1959, Peter traveled to Sens on the Yonne, France, where he lived with a French family who continued to manufacture corset stays from the keratinous material of baleen whales. Just before the thirty American students left for home, their French brothers and sisters voted Peter the most all-American of his fellow students. This was significant as Peter was a first-generation American.
Peter enjoyed playing football at Midland High School, The Pomfret School, Pomfret, Connecticut, and three years at Ohio Wesleyan University where he was voted captain of the football team his senior year. After graduating from college in 1963 he attended graduate studies at Cornell University, followed by law school at the University of Texas, Austin.
In 1967, he graduated from law school and moved to Alaska to work at the law firm of Robison McCaskey. It was there that Peter met Andrew “Andy” Hoge and the two later left to form the firm Hoge & Lekisch. Peter and Andy practiced law together for over three decades until Peter retired from practice in 2000. Peter specialized in real estate transactions; he was the principal real estate attorney for a number of developments during the period of Anchorage’s greatest growth.
Athletics and the outdoors were a central part of Peter’s life. The first winter in Alaska he nearly froze to death on a New Years Eve camping trip to Flattop Mountain. With no tent and only a thin sleeping bag, he barely survived the minus fifteen degree temperatures. He then took up downhill skiing and broke so many pairs of skis that the local sporting goods shops were very happy when he moved on to cross-country skiing. Among his achievements: running the Boston Marathon, competing in the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski marathon in Wisconsin, co-founding the Anchorage Racquet Club, competing in the Paris-Brest-Paris bicycle race with friends Jim Mendenhall, Bob Voris and George Stransky and riding on a relay with these same friends in the Race Across America. He was the first soloist over age sixty to complete the Race Across America, set a world age group record in indoor rowing, and co-founded The Fireweed 400 bicycle race which raises money for athletics in Alaska. He was also part of the same high-intensity circuit training group for over thirty years. Those who followed Jay Caldwell’s entertaining description of Peter’s age sixty record-setting cycling performance in the Race Across America from Portland, OR to Pensacola, FL could not help but be impressed with his courage and his physical and mental toughness.
The Lekisch family enjoyed many activities together, including rafting, tennis, and bicycling. Peter and his wife Ellen traversed the United States on a tandem bicycle in a sequence of trips. Peter also enjoyed fly fishing and nature photography. He had a keen, artistic eye, much to the satisfaction of his artist mother and displayed that talent in pursuit of his later interest in outdoor photography.
Peter will be remembered as a good friend. He enjoyed putting together slideshows and taking photos at local sporting events, especially the Arctic Cross bicycle races. While an accomplished fly fisherman, he took even greater joy in sharing his love of the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers with friends. He preferred rowing his friends in his drift boat to landing his own fish.
Peter was preceded in death by his son, Andrew and is survived by his wife, Ellen Lekisch; daughter, Jennifer Lekisch, Seattle, WA; sister, Barbara Lekisch, San Rafael, CA; and niece, Hallie Webster, San Luis Obispo, CA. A celebration of Peter’s life will be held at 3:30 p.m., Thursday, January 23, 2014 at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in Anchorage. In lieu of flowers, tax-deductible donations may be made to the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage for the Peter Lekisch Project; Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage, 203 W 15th Ave #204, Anchorage, AK 99501.