Mary Louise “Pudj” Young died peacefully on Sept. 25, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska, surrounded by family.
Pudj was born on Jan. 25, 1932, in Mount Vernon, Wash., to Carl Johnson and Palma Heimdahl Johnson. She was nicknamed Pudge because she was a pudgy little baby and the nickname stuck. Her only act of rebellion against her name was changing the spelling from Pudge to Pudj when she was in high school.
Pudj spent her early years in a Norwegian-American farming community in Washington’s Skagit Valley. When she was 4, her father got a job at the Lucky Shot Gold Mine in Willow, Alaska, and the family, which now included baby brother Paul, moved to Anchorage. They only intended to stay for a few years but, like many Alaskans, they never left.
After graduating from Anchorage High School in 1950, Pudj attended the University of Oregon, where she majored in art history. On Sept. 25, 1954, she married Joe Young, in Anchorage. In the early years of their marriage, Pudj and Joe spent their winters in Sun Valley, where Joe was a ski instructor. They made many lifelong friends during this time.
Pudj had a wide circle of friends that she relished spending time with. Many have described her as their best friend. She was an excellent cook and loved having friends and family over for dinner. Dinner at Pudj and Joe’s was always a relaxed and festive event. Pudj was known for her easygoing and welcoming manner. She especially loved Christmas and passed down many Norwegian Christmas traditions and recipes to her children, grandchildren, niece and nephew.
After Joe’s retirement, Joe and Pudj spent much of the year at their home in Ketchum. During this time, they took several ski vacations to Europe and bird-hunting trips to Scotland. Pudj’s devotion and support of Joe was legendary, so it was somehow fitting that she died on what would have been their 65th wedding anniversary.
Well into her 70s, Pudj enjoyed tennis and cross-country skiing. Throughout her life, she enjoyed traveling, art, gardening, reading and spending time with her family at their Kachemak Bay cabin. She had a great sense of humor and was always open to experiencing new places and things. She was a doting grandmother and great-grandmother. She will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.
Pudj is survived by her daughters, Kristen Frampton (Chad) of Anchorage and Kari Young of Sun Valley, Idaho; grandchildren, Caroline Huntley (Ehrich), Erik Frampton (Samantha) and Annabel Webster; and great-grandchildren, Audra and Jack Huntley. Her niece, Kathy Pereira and nephew, Matt Johnson, and their families also survive her. Finally, she is survived by her devoted and loving caregiver, Malia “Pua” Bird. The family is immensely grateful for the loving care provided by Pua and all of Pudj’s devoted caregivers. Her husband, Joe, and her brother, Paul Johnson, preceded her in death.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Heart Association. A celebration of Pudj’s life will be held on Sunday, Oct. 20, at 4 p.m. in the Quarterdeck at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Alaska.