Carl Alto, resident of Dunsmuir, CA since 1965, survived many things throughout his 80 years, but he could not survive the fast onset of an aggressive form of blood cancer. He passed away at Mercy Medical Center in Redding on December 29, 2017.
Carl was born in Oakland, CA, and was raised with his three siblings in Berkeley. His parents immigrated from Finland and he was very proud of his Finnish heritage. Carl was predeceased by his brother, Robert, and survived by his brother, Paul Alto (wife, Sally) of San Jose, his sister, Irene Berndt (husband, Dieter) of San Lorenzo and his nephew, Carl Berndt, of San Lorenzo.
Carl is also survived by his wife of 52 years, Harriet Alto of Dunsmuir, his son, David (wife, Sharon) of San Luis Obispo, David’s daughter, Sarah, and grandchildren, Ashli and Layla. Carl’s extended family consists of “adopted” daughter, Patti Phelps (husband, Jim), of Arlington, VA, and her children, Lauren Wilson of Hyattsville, MD, and Stephen Wilson of Calgary, Alberta. Carl was their much-loved godfather, whom they called “Boompa.”
While serving in the U.S. Army from 1958-1960, Carl met and remained lifelong friends with Jess Batres. After being discharged the two went to work for the Park Service at McKinley National Park, which was the beginning of Carl’s love of Alaska. Years later, he returned to Bristol Bay as a commercial salmon fisherman with good friend, Scott Carter.
Over the years, Carl’s adventuresome spirit led to several Alaskan calamities. These included the sinking of two fishing boats, a private plane crash, and the derailment of a narrow-gauge train on the White Pass & Yukon Railway.
Handsome and funny with a million friends, he was well known for his cheerful nature and his hearty laugh, bringing smiles to all those around him. Carl looked for the good in all things and affected the lives of many young people as a ski instructor, a woodshop teacher, and a school bus driver.
A big fan of the SF Giants and the Golden State Warriors, Carl loved living on the Upper Sac where he could fly-fish in his backyard. He was excited to obtain his student pilot’s license allowing him to fly locally and cross country. He was a graceful skier and a dedicated golfer. One of his fondest memories was a round of golf with his godson, Stephen, at spectacular Pebble Beach.
Carl’s family is grateful for the love and support of their dear friend, Mary Girard, who truly was an angel of mercy in Carl’s final weeks.
As friends have said, “When we look at the night sky, we know he is one of the brightest stars … but best of all, he was Carl.”
There will be a Celebration of Carl’s Life at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 16th, in the Meadow of the Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens. Donations in Carl’s memory may be made to the Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens at PO Box 242, Dunsmuir, CA 96025.