Tranquil Point at Sumez Island near Prince of Wales Island, Alaska
May 15, 1917 to August 6, 2001
The Legacy of Henry Metz
by Julie Kirkwood, Granddaughter
Once upon a time there was a country boy from Eastern
Pennsylvania farm country. He had black, black hair and ears
that stuck out a little bit. And he was lean and strong.
Once upon a time, he lived on a farm with his brothers and sisters and their parents, Abram and Flora Metz. They spoke
Pennsylvania Dutch and they went to the Mennonite Church. Abram had a slaughterhouse and farmed fifty acres of corn and
The country boy went to school for a while but then he had to help his family on the farm. There was a lot of work to do.
It was the great depression, but the country boy didn't seem to notice. His family provided their own food, worked on the
farm and ran the slaughterhouse, same as always.
Once upon a time, the country boy grew up to be a man. He didn't want to fight in the war because he was a peace loving
man, so he volunteered as a conscientious objector.
Once upon a time, he met a city girl from Jersey, married her, and brought her to the country, and tried to teach her how to
drive. She was from a big Italian family. I don't imagine he knew quite what he was getting into. But she was stunningly
beautiful. And later on, in that Italian family, he would become everybody's favorite uncle.
He brought his new wife to Abram and Flora's farm and there they lived with his two brothers and their brides. He
worked in the slaughterhouse and drove the meat truck, ringing the bell as he got to each customer's house.
Abram gave him thirteen acres and he had a house built for his bride, Rachele, and their new daughter, Grace Ann, right
down the road from the family homestead. Henry would live on this road all of his life, from the day he was born, to the day
He and Rachele had another daughter, Dorothy Francine. Now their family was complete.
They built a dog kennel on their property to breed and board dogs. And their place would never be without a dog for the
next forty-five years. And later, their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren would return to Henry and
Rachele's house with various dogs in tow: Spaniels that hunted, hounds that howled, dogs with spots and fast little terriers,
and a dog as big as a pony.
Henry doted on the dogs, but more than that, he doted on his grandchildren. He taught them how to fish and how to find
an Indian arrowhead in Mr. Mack's cornfield. He took them walking in the woods and splashing in the creek.
And off he went to work everyday, at Landis' Butcher Shop now, since the Metz slaughterhouse was gone, with his lunch
pail of butter and chicken sandwiches made by Rachele.
And home he'd come to clean and feed the dogs in the kennel. He'd drop his coat with the fresh smell of meat from the
butcher shop on the floor where a dog was always waiting for it-- expecting it, really-- to make a perfect napping spot.
He drank his coffee and ate his supper at the head of the table where he could look out the window and spot pheasants in
He hunted and fished and worked hard. He retired early and he took Rachele around the country. They picked
blueberries in Alaska and ate lobster in Maine. They fished in Florida. They went to see bears in Canada. They went to the rodeo and to the mountains.
Great grandchildren came along, and like their parents before them, Henry smiled that smile that could light up a room and
went to get his fishing rods.
And through his quiet way, his sense of humor and his heart of pure gold, he taught them all the most important things in
Keep peace in your family and in the world.
Trust in God.
Give all the time and love to your family that you can possibly fit into a day.
Laugh a lot.
Do what is your passion.
and . . .
Always keep a warm, loyal dog by your side.
May 15, 1917 to August 6, 2001
My parents were visiting from Pennsylvania and I had taken Dad fishing.
While he was "out fishing" all of us he had a heart attack and passed away on August 6th.
He fulfulled his dream of coming to Alaska one more time to fish for the big one!
Thanks to all of the wonderful people here on Prince of Wales Island
for your understanding
and healing thoughts during this difficult time in our lives.
Just remember, never take those you love for granted because you never know what you've got til it's gone.
My father's spirit remains here in the most beautiful place on earth.