Anna E. Groff’s life journey began April 4, 1929, and ended June 22, 2017. She was the second of two children born to John J. and Mary Frances Sheets in Cañon City, Colorado. Her very active and full life included cheerleading while in high school, and never slowed down.
She married Dallas Denny in 1948 and welcomed daughter Linda Anne the following year. In 1954, unable to find work, they loaded up everything they owned and with Anna’s parents following, they drove the Alcan Highway to Fairbanks. Arriving in July, Anna said she instantly became a Sourdough … “Sour on Alaska and not enough dough to leave.” It wouldn’t take long for that to change though, and she would go on to become a true Sourdough. They welcomed their son Dale in 1955. The marriage, however, would not last, ending in 1961.
Anna married Robert W. “Bob” Groff in January, 1966, and started on an adventure that even she could never have imagined. She took a job as a secretary in a real estate office and before long decided she could do everything the sales people were doing. A few years later she opened B & A Inc. Realtors. In addition to selling real estate, she and Bob designed and built three subdivisions along with several commercial buildings.
But the real adventures came with their numerous hunting and fishing and world travel trips, each time coming home with tales of extraordinary experiences including traveling hundreds of miles in an open canoe or riverboat (always bringing home the meat), to rescuing a newborn moose calf out of the river to being stuck on a sandbar in the Yukon River for a week. Eventually, they moved up to deep-sea fishing and really got hooked. They loved getting on their boat, the Bobanna, and taking off for parts unknown.
Having collected all sorts of collectibles, animal mounts and antiques over 30 years, they decided to move to Skagway in 1995 to build the Alaskan Outdoor Adventure. The 30,000-square-foot building housed a gift shop, coffee shop, museum and a “walk in the woods” with mounts of all the major animals of Alaska on display.
Anna is survived by daughter Linda Nott, son Dale “Muriel” Denny, stepdaughter Cheryl McGregor, three grandchildren and five great grandchildren.
Long time Alaskan, Robert W. “Bob” Groff, lost his battle with cancer on July 6, 2017. He was born in Granger, Washington, on May 15, 1923, to William and Matilda Groff. The youngest of six children, he grew up during the Great Depression working on the family farm. With the start of Word War II, he joined the Navy and trained to be a fighter pilot. At the end of the war he returned home and married his high school sweetheart, Frances Gress, settled in Tacoma, Washington, and began his banking career at First National Bank of Washington.
Bob and Frances had two daughters. Cheryl born in 1946, and Kathy, born in 1948. As a family they enjoyed hunting, fishing and camping. A few years later he transferred to the Bremerton Branch. While working there, he met Bill Stroecker, who was looking for someone to work at First National Bank of Fairbanks.
His conversation with Bill was life altering. Always up for an adventure, he packed up the family and in 1957 moved to Fairbanks by driving the Alcan Highway. Navigating the road construction through Canada was an adventure in itself and he loved every minute. This began his lifelong love affair with Alaska. It didn’t take long before he was immersed in local activities such as Golden Days, Toastmasters, the Moose Club and the Fairbanks Curling Club.
After twenty years of marriage, Bob and Frances went their separate ways. He married Anna Denny in 1966, and began another of his life’s adventures. Upon retiring from First National of Fairbanks, he joined Anna at B & A, Inc. Realtors. After several successful years of business, they “retired” from the real estate business and moved to Skagway where they opened the Alaskan Wildlife Adventure.
In 2000, they officially “retired” from Skagway. They settled in North Pole, and purchased a winter home in Bullhead City, Arizona. They traveled a large part of the world and enjoyed a lot of adventures together. His passion for hunting and fishing, and his love of traveling most of the rivers and byways of Alaska never diminished. Just recently he was planning this year’s moose hunt. He approached his cancer as a challenge and his pending death as another adventure.
Bob is preceded in death by his wife Anna, on June 22, his daughter Kathy, his parents, brothers Stan, Virgil and Don, and his sisters Dorothy Groff and Evelyn Rensch.
He is survived by his daughter Cheryl McGregor of North Pole, step-daughter Linda Nott of Fairbanks and step-son Dale “Muriel” Denny of North Pole. He is also survived by grandchildren, Kathy “Greg” Mayberry of South Dakota, Michelle “Tom” Olsen of Palmer, David “Jackie” Brunson of Washington, seven great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren, as well as several nieces and nephews.