BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Roger Almklov died April 15. The 70 years before that, he lived.
He … lived.
He climbed mountains, biked, hiked, backpacked, flyfished, kayaked, snow-skied, snowboarded and windsurfed.
He died at Isabella Lake doing another activity he loved – kiteboarding – which combines aspects of paragliding, windsurfing and wakeboarding. Precisely how he died – perhaps a medical event that caused him to lose consciousness – is not clear.
Almklov was a retired Dignity Health emergency room physician but he did not define himself by his career. As the Almklov family wrote in his obituary, Dr. Almklov was a mountaineer with a medical degree: He summitted Mount Denali in Alaska and a dormant volcano in Ecuador, among other challenges.
Roger Almklov, they wrote, was a prescriber of nature and its sacred spaces.
Erik Almklov, a San Diego-based registered nurse and cinematographer, chronicled many of his father’s exploits.
“His choice of being an ER physician really correlated with his lifestyle too,” he said. “A lot of adrenaline in both his career and his outdoor passion.”
Almklov was a Bakersfield native, attending Bakersfield High School, where he played tennis well enough to compete nationally and earn a scholarship to the University of Colorado at Boulder. He wanted to be a forest park ranger, but his father persuaded him to go to medical school. He graduated from UC Irvine College of Medicine in 1978 and returned to practice emergency medicine in his hometown, where he was a regular at Bakersfield Racquet Club.
“He was a great ER doctor,” Erik Almklov said. “I’d be in Bakersfield and have random people come up to me saying – tell me how my dad helped them and how appreciative they were.”
Roger Almklov was married 46 years to the former Christine Wilkening, who’d known Roger since they were kids. Her family and his often camped and hiked together.
Almklov worked at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital for 33 years. But, as his family says, wilderness was his chapel. Wind and whitewater were his companions, as was the iconic red helmet that rested atop his head through it all.
Roger Almklov is survived by wife Christine, sisters Kathleen and Kristen, daughter Erin, son Erik and three grandchildren.
In his memory, family members suggest donations to the California Living Museum or the Nature Conservancy. Plans for a memorial event are pending.