Der går næsten ikke en dag, hvor jeg ikke falder i søvn til en dvd om ham og hans liv ved Twin Lakes, eller læser lidt i en af hans to bøger.
Hardly a day passes by where I don't fall a sleep to one of his movies, or read in one of his two books.
Richard Louis "Dick" Proenneke (May 4, 1916–April 20, 2003) was a naturalist who lived alone in the high mountains of Alaska at a place called Twin Lakes. Living in a log cabin he constructed by hand, Proenneke made valuable recordings of both meteorological and natural data.
Proenneke's father, William Christian Proenneke, served in World War I and later made his living as a well driller. His mother, Laura (née Bonn) worked as ahomemaker. His parents married in late 1909, or early 1910, and had three daughters and three sons: Robert, Helen, Lorene, Richard, Florence, and Raymond. The year of Richard's birth is often given as 1917, but social security and census records prove him to have been born in Primrose, Harrison Township, Lee County, Iowa, on May 4, 1916.Life
Proenneke served in the United States Navy as a carpenter during World War II. It was during this service that he contracted rheumatic fever and was bedridden for nearly six months. According to Sam Keith, a life-long friend from Duxbury, Massachusetts, this illness was very revealing for Proenneke, who decided to devote the rest of his life to the strength and health of his body.
Following his discharge from the Navy, Proenneke went to school to become a diesel mechanic. The combination of his high intelligence, adaptability, and strong work ethic turned him into a very skilled mechanic. Though quite adept at his trade, Proenneke succumbed to his love of nature and moved to Oregon to work at a sheep ranch. He moved to Shuyak Island, Alaska, in 1950.
For several years, he worked as a heavy equipment operator and repairman on the naval base at Kodiak. Proenneke spent the next several years working throughout the state of Alaska as both a salmon fisherman and diesel mechanic. He worked for the Fish and Wildlife Service at King Salmon on the Alaska Peninsula. His skills as a mechanic were well-known and extremely sought after, and he was able to put away a modest nest egg for retirement. Proenneke retired to Twin Lakes.
On May 21, 1968, Proenneke arrived at his new place of retirement at Twin Lakes. Before arriving at the lakes, he made arrangements to use a cabin on the upper lake of Twin Lakes owned by a retired Navy captain, Spike Carrithers, and his wife Hope from Kodiak, (in whose care he had left his camper). This cabin was well situated on the lake and close to the site which Proenneke chose for the construction of his own cabin. Proenneke's bush pilot friend, Babe Alsworth, returned occasionally to bring food and orders that Proenneke placed through him to Sears.
Proenneke remained at Twin Lakes for the next 16 months, when he left to go home for a time to visit relatives and secure more supplies. He returned to the lakes in the following spring and remained there for most of the next 30 years, going to the lower 48 only occasionally to be with his family. He made a film record of his solitary life, which was later recut and made into a documentary.
Death and legacy
In 1999, at age 82, Proenneke returned to civilization and lived the remainder of his life with his brother in California. He died of a stroke April 20, 2003 at the age of 86. He left his cabin to the National Park Service, and it remains a popular visitor attraction in the still-remote Twin Lakes region.
In 1973, Sam Keith edited the book One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey, from Proenneke's journals and photography. After years in print it was re-issued in a new format in 1999, and won the 1999 National Outdoor Book Award (NOBA). In 2003, some of the copyrighted text from the book used with permission and some of Proenneke's film was used in Alone in the Wilderness, which began appearing on U.S. Public Television. The film centers around Proenneke building a cabin from the surrounding natural resources and includes his film footage and narration of wildlife, weather, and the natural scenery while he goes about his daily routine over the course of the winter months.
In 2005, the National Park Service and the Alaska Natural History Association published More Readings From One Man's Wilderness, another volume of Proenneke's journal entries. The book, edited by John Branson, a longtime Lake Clark National Park employee and friend of Proenneke, covers the years when the park was established. Dick had a very close relationship with the Park Service, assisting them in videotaping sensitive areas and notifying them if poachers were in the area.