Glenn Straatsma ’54
Dr. Glen Wayne Straatsma, M.D. was born in Sioux Center, Iowa, on Sept. 21, 1931, to Elmer and Alice Mae Straatsma. Growing up in Sioux Center, Glen was active in church, school and civic affairs. He was an exceptional athlete participating in baseball, cross country and basketball, where he earned his nickname, “Stretch.” His family moved in 1945 from Sioux Center to Grand Haven, Michigan. After graduation from high school, he attended Hope College where he was captain of the Hope cross country team.Glen graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Hope College in 1954. Later that year, he left Grand Haven and enlisted in the U.S. Army with 11 of his friends. He was stationed in Budingen, Germany, and while in Germany he received a scholarship to attend medical school graduating with his medical degree from University of Marburg Phillips. He returned from Germany in 1962.Dr. Straatsma moved to Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1965 where he was instrumental in the early years of the Fairbanks Clinic. His medical knowledge and passion for his patients was evident to everyone who knew him. He saved many lives over the years. In 1979, Dr. Straatsma led a team of surgeons in saving a bear mauling victim leading a 10-hour surgery which saved his patient’s eyesight. He also saved the life of a 27-year-old man who plunged into the icy Chena River during a snowmachining trip. The family credited Dr. Straatsma with his patient’s very miraculous survival. In 1991, he was attributed with rescuing a visitor from Germany when he quickly diagnosed her with a stroke and provided medical services in her native language. Dr. Straatsma supported the start of the Delta Junction Clinic and enjoyed visiting the clinic and community. His patients showed the deepest appreciation for his sensitive care.Outside of his medical practice, Dr. Straatsma volunteered extensively. He served on the Drug Abuse and Narcotic Education Board providing drug education to the public and aiding law enforcement agencies. He gave extensive talks and education on drug use. He volunteered with the Red Cross during the flood in 1967 making a deep impression on the families he assisted according to those he helped. He was honored by the University of Alaska for his volunteer work in mentoring WAMI medical students where his work in the program contributed to the increase in the number of graduates from medical school and the number of physicians in the participating states. Dr. Straatsma was a lead speaker at the first nursing conference for the Alaska Heart Association in Fairbanks which brought the newest cardiac nursing techniques to nurses in Alaska. He volunteered with the American Red Cross speaking at elementary schools in Fairbanks.In addition to his volunteer work, Dr. Straatsma served as the chief of staff for Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, Fairbanks’ City Health Officer and chairman of the Tumor Board and Registry. He was frequently asked to speak at conferences and events including the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, the Red Cross, and the American Cancer Society . In 1992, he participated in studies with the DEC and University of Alaska Fairbanks regarding exhaust fumes created during combustion of the newly introduced oxygenated fuel which was found to cause underlying respiratory disease.Dr. Straatsma was an avid sportsman enjoying fishing, hunting, trapping, snow machining, and boating. He enjoyed taking his family to Valdez, and showing his friends and visitors around the great state of Alaska which he loved. Glen was well-respected and loved by many. He will be sorely missed by all of his family and the many friends he made over the years.Glen passed away peacefully on April 29, 2022, and is preceded in death by his daughter Antje Radley Zwerneman and son Michael Straatsma. He is survived by his wife Gretchen Lake Straatsma of Reno, Nevada; daughter Alexandra Goke (Rudiger) of Marburg, Germany; son Eric Straatsma (Beate) of Seattle, Washington; son Janz Staats of Ft. Lauderdale, Forida; daughter Lisa Huffman (James) of Anchorage, Alaska; and son Ryan Straatsma (Jamie) of Fairbanks, Alaska.