Christopher Cole Fondell, owner of Alaska Jewelry in Sitka, Alaska, died March 17. He was 57.
According to an online obit in the local newspaper, Fondell suffered a massive brain hemorrhage on Feb. 6. A second hemorrhage on Feb. 22 left him in a coma from which he never recovered.
Fondell was born in Dubuque, Iowa, the sixth of eight children. At 16, he was offered an apprenticeship at a jeweler with the uncle of his future wife, Tammy. “He very quickly decided that learning to make jewelry in a nice, cool work room was far more attractive than bailing hay in the humid Iowa summers,” the obit says.
After serving in the military, he and Tammy set up a jewelry business in Colorado Springs, Colo. In 1987, they decided to try Sitka, Alaska, for a year. Fondell quickly fell in love with the hunting, fishing, and natural scenery. He founded Alaska Jewelry’s Goldsmith Gallery in Sitka in October 1990, and opened up a second store in Icy Strait Point, Alaska, in 2012.
A post on the company blog by employee Cleve Oines calls Fondell the “one of the best bosses one could ask for, but he was much more than that. Chris and I played racquetball together, fished together, and shared more laughs on more subjects than a professional environment should ever allow. My last memory of Chris is him leaving work early so he could pack a large box of fish from his home freezer for me, because I’d mentioned offhand that I missed king salmon. He built the engagement ring my wife wears, and he and his wife Tam refused to let me pay for the wedding band that I have worn for the last 13 years.”
He is survived by his wife, son, daughter, mother, and seven siblings.
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