Troopers, Cordova community mourn death of Alex Arduser

By Camille Botello and Elin Johnson

The Alaska State Troopers and Cordova community are remembering one of their own as an avid outdoorsman, a top tier employee, and a family man after his death just outside of town last week.

Alex Arduser, a 44-year-old former Alaska Wildlife Trooper, was found dead and partially submerged in the

water a couple of miles from a sandbar off Egg Islands near Cordova on April 25.

Doug Massie, a retired Trooper who worked alongside Arduser, told the Cordova Times on Wednesday that his former colleague’s death was shocking.

“Obviously it makes all of us reflect on life,” he said. “It was a shock to me … just devastation.”

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Arduser had been bird hunting on Egg Islands when the pilot who was scheduled to pick him up could not locate him at the pickup location and reported him as overdue, according to the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Tim DeSpain, a public information officer with DPS, said it was approximately one hour between Troopers being notified that Arduser was not at the pickup location to when the pilot reported spotting his body. Troopers responded to the island and Arduser’s body was recovered that same night. Arduser’s remains were transported to the State Medical Examiner’s Office.

Massie, who lives in Wasilla now, said he worked with Arduser for about 20 years. He said he remembers his colleague as a quiet, fully attentive, highly productive employee, and a hunting “machine.”

“He was probably one of the hardest working Troopers I knew,” Massie said. “He didn’t require a pat on the back for everything that he did but he got it done.” 

According to reporting by KUCB in Unalaska, Arduser was originally from Anchorage but spent several years working there on the Aleutians, Aniak and Soldotna, as well as Cordova. He retired from the force as an Alaska Wildlife Trooper on Aug. 31, 2022 after two decades with the agency.

Massie said his late coworker always seemed drawn to work in rural Alaska. The last trip Massie took to the Aleutian Islands while Arduser was still working there, he said he could tell the community cared about his coworker. 

“He spent years in Dutch Harbor alone,” Massie said. “Same as Cordova, everybody who knew him really liked him a lot, if not loved him.”

Before his celebration of life at Mt. Eccles Elementary School last weekend, other community members and former colleagues were quick to memorialize Arduser on social media. 

“I had the greatest respect for this man. Alex was a friend, a good coworker, a teacher, and a brother. He loved his family, his friends, his job, and all that the Alaska outdoors has to offer,” Michael Hicks wrote in a Facebook post. “Rest in peace brother. You made a difference and your life truly mattered to so many. We will miss you.”

The public information office at DPS did not respond to questions from the Cordova Times before this story went to print about whether or not an autopsy report had already been filed or if a cause of death had been identified.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2021 showed that accidents were the fourth leading cause of death in Alaska — above stroke, respiratory and liver disease, suicide, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. That year Alaska had the eighth highest accident death rate in the country, averaging 84.5 per 100,000 people. 

Michael Towle, who said he’s been friends with Arduser for 12 years and has kids around the same age, said Alex’s service last weekend was “an amazing celebration.” He read an original poem at his friend’s wake.

“I don’t think I have ever cried at a funeral (or) memorial before in my life, but I cried multiple times at Alex’s,” he said.

Forty-one ducks; for Alex

By Michael Towle

Forty-one ducks lined up, all in a row

Blasted from heavenly sky to mortal earth below.

A joyful day to remember, but sorrow to ensue,

Each and every duck a story to recount, reminding us of you.

Forty-one ducks that day, a thrill to behold!

But it’s time to pack it in, darkness comes and so does the cold.

It went all too fast, epic days do pass with timeless flow,

But I can imagine that twinkle in your eye, as the line continued to grow.

Forty-one ducks in a row, waiting for their final ride.

I never got to tell you, “To call you my friend gave me great pride.”

Forty-one ducks flap through my mind, since that fateful day,

Forty-one things I wish I’d had time to share, but I ran out of time to say.

Forty-one ducks, a number that will bring a grin when I hear it forever more,

Happy thoughts of you bring a chuckle, though my throat may still be sore.

Forty-one ducks to make me smile when I think of you out there alone,

When those forty-one, little quacking angels came to fly you home.

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Camille Botello
Camille Botello is the managing editor of The Cordova Times. After graduating with a degrees in Journalism and Spanish from Linfield University in western Oregon, she took a leap of faith and moved to the Last Frontier where she began her career at the Peninsula Clarion in Kenai. She now lives in New York City and writes about the borough of the Bronx. In her spare time, Botello enjoys hiking, live music, going to museums, and spending time with her roommates — her sister, cousin and adventure cat Benito. Reach her at [email protected].