Alaskan Herman Leite passes away in Seward, age 83

Herman Harold Leite, known by family and friends as Howie, age 83, passed away peacefully in Seward, Alaska, February 2,2013 at the Seward Providence Hospital, with family and friends close by.

Born in Kodiak, AK to Alexandra Gongo(off) Leite of Kodiak, AK and Kristian Harold Leite of Norway, on September 4, 1929, Howie was the youngest of ten children.  His father died when he was an infant, and his mother passed away when he was 10 years old.  Howie was sent to the Jesse Lee Home in Seward and remained there until the outbreak of World War II.  Soon after, he was sent to live with his older sisters in Kodiak and finished his high school education there.  After his graduation, in 1948, he enlisted in the Army and was sent to Occupied Germany, serving in the 507th Engineers Heavy Shop Company and achieving the rank of Sergeant. He was awarded a Good Conduct Metal when he left the service in 1952.

Returning to Kodiak, Howie joined the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) 302 as a heavy equipment operator.  He was a member of the union for 60 years. Howie was involved in many construction jobs throughout Alaska, building roads, highways, schools and airports. He worked for Brechan Enterprises of Kodiak, SS Mullins, Wilder and others.  He was part of the survey ‘Cat Train’ that traveled over the North Slope tundra during the winter, prior to the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

In 1952, Howie married Helen Roberta Scroogs (deceased 1986)  and raised three children,  all still living, Kristian Leite of Woodway, WA, Mary Tougas of Seward, AK, and Judi Thompson of Kodiak, AK.  He has six grandchildren; Sonja Leite, Hailey Thompson and Paul, Melissa, Joe and Rachel Tougas.  He is also survived by his three great-grandchildren Isla, Abel and Eben Tougas.

In the mid 70’s Howie married Irene Smith and has two living stepdaughters;  Kristy Hansen of Ninilchik, AK and Karen Rotschy of Amboy , WA, with several step-grandchildren and great grandchildren that knew him as grandpa.

After Irene’s passing in 2004, Howie moved to Seward, AK, to be with his daughter Mary, her husband Tom, and their children.  During the eight years in Seward, Howie lived independently, but close to family. He drove his car everyday around town, making his ‘rounds,’ and was a constant at the dinner table in the Tougas home.  He loved being back in Alaska and the chance to be close to family, getting to know his grandchildren and being part of the arrival of his great-grandchildren.  He enjoyed fishing and travel while living in Seward, making trips to Hawaii three times and two cruise ship vacations. He was an avid football fan and didn’t miss any games on television.

He is also survived by two sisters, Selma Parsons of Washington and Margret Haynes of California.


Howie requested he be cremated, and that his ashes be spread in Kodiak, close to where he was raised and where he raised his family.  A wake will be held in his memory on Saturday, February 23, at Chinooks in Seward, AK (2 to 4pm) and another will be held in Kodiak this spring.

In Lieu of flowers, donations may be sent, with a note that it is in his memory, to the Kodiak Baptist Mission (a 501c3 non-profit working with Kodiak youth) at:

Kodiak Baptist Mission

1944 East Rezanof Drive,

Kodiak, AK, 99615.

Howie age 80, photo by M Tougas
Howie age 80, photo by M Tougas
Howie in uniform, age 18
Howie in uniform, age 18, photo from M Tougas



  1. So sorry to hear of your loss Mary and the rest of the Tougases. I’m glad he got to spent the last part of his life with you guys, and got to know his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

  2. Thank you so much for sending this. My mom was Inez and was Irene’s twin sister. My wife Linda and I will always have a
    special place in our hearts for Howie. He was a class act all the way. May god bless all of you.

  3. I am Irene Leite’s neice (Inez was my mother). Uncle Howie will always be in my heart. He was a wonderful man and great husband to my Aunt Irene. I take comfort in knowing he is in heaven with Auntie.
    May God bless all, Wanda