Herb Jensen. Photos courtesy of Raven Cunningham

Born November 2, 1948, in Cordova, Alaska, Herb lived a full and exciting life until the morning of March 19, 2024, when he watched his last sunrise on the lanai of his home in Kona, Hawaii.  

Born to Dolly (Clock) Scott and Paul Jensen, Herb was Eyak Alaska Native and a Norwegian Viking, raised between Peak Island and Cordova. Herb was the oldest of six, with two sisters, Nina Totemoff and Alice Reilly, and three brothers, the late Jimmy Jensen, Bruce and Joe Schneuer. Herb was a loving husband to his wife Barb, a proud father to his daughter Alicia, and proud of his three grandchildren, Raven, Marina, and Seabastian, and a great-grandson Okalee. He is survived by his family, Aunt Ginger Dale, many cousins, and friends. 

Herb started commercial fishing at a young age with his Uncle Jerry Clock. From there he grew into his legacy as a Prince William Sound and Copper River Flats fisherman. When Herb was 18, he was drafted into the Vietnam War and spent 18 months on the front line until he was injured and sent back home. Shortly after he met Barb, they became friends and started dating when he was 21 and married her a year later. Together, over the course of 53 years they built a Copper River salmon cannery called Glacier Packing Co., and owned three gillnetters and three seine boats fishing the Copper River Flats, Prince William Sound, Kodiak, Togiak, and the Berring Sea until he retired in 2018. His happiest years were spent fishing with his family and crew who grew to be like family.  

Herb and Barb were snowbirds, traveling to and from Cordova to Kona, Hawaii. In Hawaii, he spent his time gardening, watching every sunset and sunrise, and fishing for the grander marlin any chance he could get with his captain John Wilson. He was lucky enough to catch an 800 pound pacific blue marlin in 2004. Back in Cordova when he wasn’t commercial fishing, he hunted to fill his family’s freezers, spent time with his family, went on drives out the road, always refilled his hummingbird feeder for his regulars that visited his house, and drove his red 1968 Chevy “hot rod” around town. 

Herb was teacher to many, a friend to even more, a remarkable storyteller, and helpful to anyone who needed it. His head-strong, go-getter attitude got him very far in life. He knew the meaning of hard work and had no fear when it came to difficult tasks. Herb was one of the founding members of the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation. He sat on the Native Village of Eyak Tribal Council for a couple terms. He was a proud member of the Cordova District Fishmen’s United, United Fishermen of Alaska, Keahou Yacht Club, Pioneers of Alaska, Loyal Order of the Moose, and the Elks Club.  

Herb lived a good life always making “one last set” and enjoying the little things, because they were “so good they must have been illegal.” He will be missed by many, but the love for him will live on. Memory eternal.  

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Herb was cremated and he asked that his ashes be spread across the Kona Coast, Copper River Flats, Snug Harbor on Knight Island, and on Peak Island where his mother, grandmother, and family before him rest.  

The family encourages anyone who has a good story or stories about Herb to please send them to his wife Barb at [email protected]. The family is compiling these stories to create a book about Herb’s life. 

This story was originally published in the April 5 issue of The Cordova Times.

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