Moment in Kodiak: Larry LeDoux

Larry LeDoux with campers. (Photo courtesy of Larry LeDoux)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kodiak’s rich history is recorded in historical documents, firsthand accounts, and photographs. They contain more than just facts and dates.

They’re also evidence of everyday life: the restaurants people went to, the entertainment that filled their days, and the people they spent their time with.

In this three-part series, we look at historic photos on the island and sit down with the people captured in those moments in time.

In this final installment, KMXT chats with a school administrator about Kodiak in the early 1970s.

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“What you’re seeing in the picture is just me learning what it’s like to mentor and work with kids.”

The photo shows a teenage Larry LeDoux at Camp Woody on Woody Island, where he worked as a counselor. He’s sitting with three little girls around a fire on a beach and roasting marshmallows.

He wears a green army jacket and glasses that darken in the sunlight.

And his haircut would have suited a 60s-era Ringo Starr.

“I was 140 pounds, 6’3, I couldn’t dribble. I would be the kind of person that would help wire the phone ringing in a school play in the background.”

He was also a proud science geek, but realized he wanted to do more than pursue a career in science. He wanted to teach it.

“I started working with kids and I really loved it. I really loved their energy. I loved their curiosity. I loved being able to share with them science and the ecology of the island.”

He tried out a few different jobs. He worked as an engineer at a TV station in Seattle and spent all of a week as a chemist. But it all circled back to his summers at Camp Woody.

“And before I know it, my desire to be a scientist and immerse myself in a laboratory somewhere started eroding.”

He says he went to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he earned a master’s degree in education.

“You know after the first couple of years I thought I’m going to change the world teaching science, but after you start working with kids, the content doesn’t matter anymore. It’s the building vision in kids, building hope, giving them the skills necessary to make good decisions.”

He credits Camp Woody’s founders, Norman and Joyce Smith, for guiding him during the years where he realized he liked working with children.

It was also a difficult period in his life. His father had passed away around the time the photo was taken.

He says the Smiths were incredible mentors.

“They were the ones that sort of healed my mind and got me to relax a little bit and smell the roses. I’m sort of high speed, but they had such a vision for kids and a love for Kodiak.”

He says Kodiak was a smaller community back then.

“We just had one restaurant… which was a hamburger place downtown. We had the Captain’s Keg, a pizza place. It didn’t seem that small. We had a lot fewer activities when I was a child. When I started school, there weren’t any girl sports, just boy sports.”

He says as a young man he read a lot and went hiking and hunting and says it was a good time to be a Kodiak kid.

“There were certainly problems, but those don’t stand out. The friendships, the collegiality, the opportunities, they were all there.”

LeDoux is now the Superintendent of Schools, but also worked in Kodiak as a teacher and a principal.

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