L.I.F.E. in Alaska  •  P.O. Box 7604  •  Ketchikan, Alaska  99901

Copyright 2013. L.I.F.E. In Alaska. All Rights Reserved.

Scot Menzies, Assistant Secretary

Scot moved to Southeast Alaska with his mother at the age of 4 months to join his dad who was working there as a land surveyor.  He grew up in Southeast Alaska, primarily in Juneau and graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 1981.   He attended and earned a B.S. degree in civil engineering from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in 1986.  After college he started a job in early 1988 in Ketchikan with the State of Alaska, Department of Environmental Conservation as an Environmental Engineer.  After three years at ADEC, Scot took a job as a private sector engineer with an engineering consulting firm in Ketchikan and worked there for 17 years, becoming an owner/partner and later serving as president of the company.  During this time Scot married Rita Smith from Illinois and they had three boys.  The younger of his twin sons, Chandler, who is now 16, has autism.  In early 2008 Scot quit working for the engineering firm he’d been with since 1990 and formed his own engineering and land surveying firm in Ketchikan.  His work included civil, environmental, and structural engineering, as well as land surveying for engineering designs, subdivisions and permits.  In early 2013 Scot accepted a job with a large engineering consulting firm based in Anchorage that employs him as the manager of their new Ketchikan office.  Scot has many personal interests, including boating, fishing, downhill skiing, woodworking and home improvement.  He also served as a planning commissioner for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough from 1994 to 2000. 

Bill Whicker, President

Bill was born and raised in Northeastern Colorado.  He earned his bachelor's degree in Industrial Arts (teaching) in 1982 from the University of Northern Colorado and holds a Master's in Educational Administration from National University.   He was drawn to Alaska in 1983 and began his teaching career in the Craig City School District in Southeast Alaska.

Bill is currently a K-12 Principal and the Technology Coordinator in the Ketchikan Gateway School District in Ketchikan, Alaska.  In his position, he works with and designs educational programs for students whose skills and abilities are spread across a wide range.   In his 27th year as an Alaskan educator, Bill has worked in 4 Alaskan district in various capacities including Vocational Education teacher, regular classroom teacher, Technology Coordinator and Principal.  He also coached a variety of sports from elementary to high school levels.

Since the diagnosis of his son’s autism in 1997 at the age of three, Bill has worked extensively with school districts and social agencies to leverage resources and services towards one comprehensive plan of care for he and his wife Jen's son.  During each phase of raising their three boys,  they have continually advocated for coordination of services to meet one comprehensive plan of care.  Additionally, they have worked with peer groups in the public schools in the areas of inclusion and tolerance of individuals with disability.   

Bob Whicker, Executive Director

Bob has been involved in Alaskan education over a span of 34 years teaching and working in varying positions of school leadership from principal to superintendent, and moved to the private sector as an education development executive for Apple, Inc. At Apple, he was selected as National Development Executive of the Year in 2006. Technology, school partnerships and educational reform have been trademarks of his schools and districts. Bob currently serves as director of the Association of Alaska School Boards Consortium for Digital Learning (CDL). He also has owned several businesses in the hospitality industry as well as being a commercial fisherman for 22 years.


Bob has been immersed in digital learning through one to one learning environments for the past decade. He was involved with the CDL since it inception, helping to plan its purpose and structure. Through the CDL, over 120 schools in 32 school districts have moved to one to one projects impacting over 12, 500 users.


Bob has degrees in business administration/physical education from the University of Northern Colorado and a MEd. in Exercise Science form Colorado State University. He obtained his Principal certificate from University of Texas and Superintendent certificate from the University of Alaska. He recently completed a Ph.D. in Transformational Leadership at UAF studying the effects of 1:1 computing on K12 education in Alaska.

Rita Menzies, Secretary

Rita has been a resident of Ketchikan since 1992.  She moved to the area as a short term contract Registered Nurse.  She has three sons, Duncan and Chandler, age 16 years old and Shane, age 14.   She has developed an interest in special needs and autism since Chandler has been diagnosed in 2000.   She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Nursing in 1988 and continues to work part time as a registered nurse locally; however, her passion lies in helping those with exceptionalities achieve their maximum potential.   Her belief is to treat all individuals holistically and to include traditional medicine as well as alternative therapies to include but not limited to sensory integration, craniosacral therapy, and naturopathic medicine.  She has served on the Holy Name Catholic School Advisory Board from 2006-2008 as well as the Auction Committee from 2006-2011.   She provided volunteer hours at Holy Name Catholic School to complete school nursing services (reviewing immunization records, vision and hearing screening, and PPD screening) from 2007 to present.   Currently, she is a member of the Community Connections Board of Directors since March 2012 as well as a member of the Community Connections Capital Campaign Committee in 2012. 

Board of Directors


L.I.F.E. in Alaska is a 501 (c)(3)  non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide a safe, productive and meaningful environment for people with disabilities in a “whole life” Alaskan setting while striving to meet each individual’s plan of care. Using a multi-level approach, we intend to meet full-life goals for the permanently disabled to include behavioral health advocacy for life-long transitional services, while supporting quality of life and self-determination,  through building community support for transitional adults with disabilities.

Please read the narratives which state our board of director bios and contact information, our purpose, our focus, the plan-of-care for young adults transitioning from school to the real-world for a life-time of purposeful experiences and opportunities.

Who We Are

Gerald Castle, Assistant Treasurer

Gerald Castle’s brother, Ron, moved to Alaska after it became a state in 1959.  He came up to pursue fishing and hunting and took a job as a teacher in Wrangell, AK.  Following him in 1969, Gerald took a teaching job in Ketchikan and moved with his family to Alaska also.  He was a welding and metals teacher and taught for 28 years and became the Head of the Vocational Department.  Gerald had a love of hunting and fishing too and retired in 1988 to purchase a troller and fish for a living.  He was a troller until 2001.  When a need arose to move nets, skiffs and gear for fishermen, he bought a Boom truck, and works year around to do necessary jobs for people in Ketchikan.  He’s been a builder, welder, and jack of all trades his whole life. He would like to share his skills and do work on a project that would provide a better life for people of all abilities or disabilities.   

Mary Castle, Vice President

Mary Castle has lived in Ketchikan, Alaska for 44 years.  She moved here with husband Gerald and three kids from Michigan.  She taught PE and English at the Junior High for 27 years.  Her family still lives in Ketchikan. Dan and Jim are fishermen and Jennifer is a teacher.  She received a Masters of Secondary Education from the University of Alaska SE Campus in 1975.  Having fulfilled all her goals by 1995, she retired from teaching and pursued other interests.  When grandchildren arrived, they became a big priority.  Of the 6 grandsons and one granddaughter, she has a 19 year old grandson, of daughter Jennifer, who has autism. She would like to help attain the facilities and organization of a place where Louie and others could attend, learn and have fun. She brings years of teaching and knowledge of working with people of all ages. 

Jen Whicker, Treasurer

Jen is a lifelong Alaskan, raised there since she was four years old.  She graduated from Ketchikan High School in 1983 and then, after some years studying out of state, earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1989. She also married her husband, Bill in 1989 and they moved to Prince of Wales Island. She taught Kindergarten for 3 years, but decided to take time off when her 2nd of 3 sons was born. She didn’t know at the time that their second son had autism. Since his diagnosis at 3 ½, Jen along with her family learned all they could about methods to teach him.  She made herself available to coordinate learning goals with his pre-school classroom and his one-on-one teaching sessions.  She often worked directly with her son in his intensive teaching sessions as well as working in his classroom as a paraprofessional. She was able to work with school personnel and after school care workers to encourage consistency with the goals and expectations of their son’s behavior and education plan.

Living Independence For Everyone

     L.I.F.E. in Alaska

     P.O. Box 7604

     Ketchikan, Alaska 99901


 A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water.  Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean.

As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time he was throwing them back into the water.

The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied,"I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. "But", said the man, "You can't possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can't possibly make a difference."
The boy looked down, frowning for a moment; then bent down to pick up another starfish, smiling as he threw it back into the sea. He replied, 

"I made a huge difference to that one!" 

~Author Unknown~