Welcome to the memorial page for

John C. Phariss

July 16, 1926 ~ July 26, 2017 (age 91)

John Calvin Phariss, 91, of Livingston, Montana passed peacefully from this life on Wednesday, July 26th, 2017.. A memorial Mass will be held on Thursday, August 3, 10:00 A.M., at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Livingston. John will be buried at Fort Harrison Veteran’s Cemetery in Helena, MT with Veteran’s honors at 2:00 P.M.


John, the son of the late Willam A. Phariss and Saphronia May Phariss he was born in what is now the lakebed of the Lake of the Ozarks July 16,1926 starting a life filled with adventure. He is survived by his sister, Isabell Thomas, his brother, Arthur, his son, Daniel and daughters, Patsy, Peggy, Christine and four grandchildren.

He learned to trap and hunt at an early age and helped support his family in the Great Depression sometimes making more in a day than laborers would in a month.

He served in the Army during WW-II in the Pacific. After the Japanese surrender he guarded trains against communist guerrillas on Luzon in the Philippines.

When discharged  he returned to Southern Missouri where he farmed and ran a trucking business hauling everything from fence posts to watermelons to dry goods from the Rockies to the Atlantic Coast.

He married Faelorraine Aten on April 22, 1948. In the late 1950s the family moved to Northeast Iowa where he farmed and worked construction jobs finally settling near Independence, IA. Encouraged by his father-in-law he started to contract with railroad companies and by the early 1960s was removing track and bridges from lines the railroads were shutting down. Eventually he removed the rail, ties and bridges, including large steel bridges and buildings from over 200 miles of track for several railroad companies in 8 states.

Trapping took up otherwise idle winters, when he finally retired in his 80s he had trapped from the Rio Grande River in Texas to the Yukon River in Alaska. 

In 1980s he migrated to Alaska, homesteading at Slana in the last Federal Homestead program. Over 25 odd years on his Copper River trap lines he caught about 250 wolves alone which greatly increased the Moose population, riding 10s of thousands of miles on snowmobiles in  the process. 

He established a second hand store on the Nabesna Road south of Slana which he called John’s Barn.

He worked on the Exxon Valdez oil spill clean-up, in his words “when the Valdez hit the rocks”. At 65 he was the oldest firefighter on a USFS fire crew and fought fire at Happy Camp California and another major fire in Oregon that year. He was disappointed when, at 66, he was too old to be rehired. With his older  brother, Vernon “Smokey” Phariss, he cleared land at Delta Junction Alaska for farming. After this project he started a brush cutting/custom farming business and ran a continuous yard sale near Delta Junction. His last few years were spent with his son Daniel and daughter-in-law Judy near Livingston, MT. At first just through the winters, then with short summer trips to AK and finally full time in Montana.

 Arrangements are under the care of Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory.

 Service Information

Memorial Mass
August 3, 2017

10:00 AM
St. Mary's Catholic Church
38 Vista View Drive
Livingston, MT 59047

© 2018 Franzen-Davis Funeral Home & Crematory. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS