Mr. Charles Eugene Crapuchettes
(Affectionately known as “Mr. C”)
Mr. Charles Eugene Crapuchettes was born April 9, 1936, to Eugene and Winifred Crapuchettes, who were serving in Kunming, China as missionaries with China Inland Mission. He was the second of four children. Along with many other American families, the family fled China through Burma and India during World War II, but Eugene Crapuchettes, Chuck’s father, later returned alone to China as a translator and liaison officer under Chinese general Chiang Kai-Shek. His family would never see him again. Two years later he was killed in a truck accident and was reportedly buried in Kunming, although the family never found his grave. Suddenly, a single mother of four young children, Winifred Crapuchettes returned to China in 1947 with her family after the war before finally leaving for good in 1951, two years after the Communists took over.
Mr. Crapuchettes headed to college early, but interrupted his studies at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, to enlist in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War while he was 17. Although he hoped to become a pilot, he was trained instead as a flight medic, then as a medical laboratory technologist. After graduating at the top of his medical class, he was assigned to the hospital on Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage. He was honorably discharged in 1955 and finished his bachelor’s degree in science at Wheaton College before returning to Alaska for good.
“Until I landed, I hadn’t given Alaska a second thought, contrary to a lot of guys who say they always wanted to come here,” he had said in an interview. “It never crossed my mind until I came here.” After trying his hand as a big game guide, commercial pilot, and commercial fisherman, Mr. Crapuchettes discovered his true gift of teaching, both as a profession and as a ministry. He taught for six years at the tiny public school in Newhalen on Lake Iliamna before moving to Soldotna and becoming Cook Inlet Academy’s founder and first administrator in 1972.
“We started with fourth through eighth grade,” he said. “There were 35 kids the first year.”
From that beginning in the basement of the former Soldotna Bible Chapel building, Cook Inlet Academy eventually expanded to include more than 200 students in preschool through 12th grade at the school’s present location on Kalifornsky Beach Road, including music, sports and missions programs.
The teaching lifestyle allowed Mr. Crapuchettes to join his brother Bruce in pursuing a secondary career as commercial salmon fisherman in Bristol Bay during the summers, which he did for more than 30 years. Yet Chuck never strayed far from his missionary roots. He threw himself into the ministry of Cook Inlet Academy, believing strongly in the value of a Christian education. He helped to found Christian schools in Homer, Anchor Point and Kodiak during the 1970s and another in Palmer during the 1980s, and he eventually earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 1984.
Under Mr. Crapuchettes’ guidance, Cook Inlet Academy was among the first organizations to take advantage of the opening of the former USSR by conducting cultural exchanges with students from the Russian Far East and taking school kids to Russia for cultural and spiritual outreaches.
Mr. Crapuchettes’ philosophy of Christian education, is a strong, Biblically-based practice of building strong relationships with Christ and then with others. His original policies have proven over time their wisdom and practicality and are honored and practiced here at Cook Inlet Academy. Mr. C, as we lovingly called him, is remembered as a man who loved God and others and who exhibited grace to all he met. His teaching methods and philosophies have continued to guide the staff and board here at CIA.
We are eternally grateful for Mr. C’s willingness to honor God through his devotion in establishing Cook Inlet Academy.