Jeff Bayless, a senior captain with the Anchorage Fire Department and a fourth generation Alaskan, died Friday, March 7, 2014 after collapsing during a training exercise. He was 51.
Jeff was born on November 8, 1962 in Glennallen, Alaska. He comes from a family with deep roots in the Alaskan interior. He lived a colorful life growing up in Copper Center. His father’s family was involved in gold mining in the Forty Mile country of Chicken and Franklin, helping settle the area, building the road, and providing transportation. Jeff spent most of his adult life in the Mat-Su Borough.
Jeff is survived by his wife of almost 26 years, Gail Bayless of Anchorage; his mother, Patsey Bayless of Anchorage; his father, William Bayless of Costa Rica; his sisters, Leah Custard of Bend, Oregon, Cynthia Starnes of Anchorage, Rebecca Bayless of Wasilla, and his brother, Gregory Bayless of Stanwood, Washington. He is also survived by his grandfather, Ed Hill of Hayden, Idaho; cousins, Jerry Cronk of Copper Center and Julie Counter of Anchorage; 10 nieces and nephews; and 5 great-nieces. He is preceded in death by his grandparents, Howard and Alice Bayless of Copper Center; his grandmother, Ella Hill of Tillamook, Oregon, formerly of Anchorage; and a nephew, Brandon McCrary of Copper Center.
Jeff had an unusually diverse and eclectic range of interests and was an avid learner. He graduated from Glennallen High School in 1980 and then from Alaska Bible College in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in Christian Education and Camp Administration. In 1986, he completed a paramedic training program at The Oregon Health Sciences University, and three years later earned an associate’s degree in nursing from Regent’s College in New York through a distance learning program. His education continued ceaselessly with, among other things, a host of specialized certifications in the fire and EMS fields. He loved to teach.
His medical interests began at the age of 18 in Glennallen, where he trained and volunteered as an Emergency Medical Technician. After completing paramedic training in 1986, he spent the late 80’s working as a paramedic for the Tillamook County General Hospital Ambulance Service in Oregon. When he returned to Alaska in 1989 after having married, he worked first as a registered nurse in the ICU at Providence Hospital in Anchorage and volunteered on the side with the Mat-Su Borough as a volunteer paramedic and firefighter. He then became an EMS Training Coordinator for the Borough before moving on to the Anchorage Fire Department. Over the years he volunteered periodically as a nurse at Cross Road Medical Center in Glennallen.
Jeff began his career with the Anchorage Fire Department in 1991 as a paramedic, later becoming a firefighter-paramedic, then advancing through the ranks of Engineer and Captain to his final rank of Senior Captain. During his 8 years as Senior Captain, he first oversaw the Airport Heights station, then the fire station on Huffman, and for the last 3 years has been at the Eagle River fire station. He loved his job, thrived on firehouse life, and cared deeply about his crew.
Jeff savored the Alaskan lifestyle and enjoyed photography, fishing, hunting, hiking, boating, canoeing, and shooting. He worked out consistently and was fit and strong to the end of his life. He enjoyed young people, and throughout his lifetime worked with church youth groups and youth camps. He is warmly remembered by many for his guided canoe trips for groups of young people down the Little Su and Yukon Rivers. He was actively involved in church community life. Jeff will be remembered most for his kind and humble heart. He was a loyal and encouraging friend to many.
Below is a picture of the plaque for Jeff. Following is a link to his local news report.
Jeff Bayless ADN Article