Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
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YUKON DELTA:Exhibit Honors aService Hero
Alaska Region, May 5, 2006
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Clarence Rhode Exhibit
Clarence Rhode Exhibit - Photo Credit: n/a

Clarence Rhode was a Regional Director of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska when he disappeared in 1959.  Rhode was piloting the Service's Grumman Goose airplane number N720 accompanied by his son Jack and Agent Stanley Frederickson.  One of the largest and most extensive searches in Alaska history failed to find the aircraft.  In 1978, hikers in the remote Brooks Range found the wreckage, solving the mysterious disappearance.

Rhode's accomplishments were recognized when the Kuskokwim National Wildlife Range was renamed the Clarence Rhode National Wildlife Refuge in 1961.  The 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) combined the Clarence Rhode Refuge and nearby smaller refuges into the new, 20 million acre Yukon Delta Refuge.

A new exhibit at the Refuge Visitor Center in Bethel features a large photo of the airplane Clarence Rhode was flying when he disappeared, along with pictures of Rhode with family and co-workers.  The text tells his story.  Former Service employee Lisa Fox, NCTC historian Mark Madison, and deputy manager Doug Staller collaborated on the exhibit.

Refuge Manager Mike Rearden notes, "Clarence was a pioneer in Alaska's conservation history and we’re proud to tell his story in our Visitor Center."  On a personal level it is particularly satisfying for Rearden, since his father was a friend of and flew with Rhode throughout Alaska in the 1950's. 

The Rhode legacy continues to this day as "N720" is proudly worn by one of the Yukon Delta Refuge's Cessna 185s.

Contact Info: Kristen Gilbert, 907-786-3391, Kristen_Gilbert@fws.gov
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