The matriarch of the Tides Inn family is Gloria Ohmer Koenigs. Her business plan is simply to make Tides Inn your “home away from home.” As the owner/operator of the Tides Inn, Gloria has been a driving force behind fostering the visitor industry in the vibrant Petersburg fishing community. She knows the community well and has built a business and staff that will make you feel “like a local” during your visits to Alaska’s Little Norway.
The following is an excerpt from the May, 2002 Alaskan Southeaster magazine and serves as an introduction to the woman the writer says is “typical of the rugged individuals who helped build Southeast from territorial days. Her success is a shining example of what a person can accomplish with desire and hard work.”“Gloria came to Petersburg from Everett, Washington in 1949 to visit friends. The friends left. She stayed. ‘They were looking for somebody to cook out at Blind Slough,’ she said. “We had to fly in. I had never flown before, so everything I did was an adventure.”
As the new cook, Gloria bought a case of everything
she could think of that you could eat and the Joy of Cooking cookbook.
“I still have it,” she said. From the end of April
until the middle of November, she cooked three meals a day for
Delivering the food was almost as exciting as getting to the camp. “We would wait until the tide was right, which was very seldom during the summer. They would come in on a skiff and bring us milk and that sort of thing,” she said.
As a cook, she has what she thought was a fatal flaw: she had never made bread. Since she couldn’t go to the grocery store and just buy bread, she had to learn - quickly, with the help of a woman who served as one of the caretakers of the hydroelectric plant.
Moreover, she had never seen a bear, but Blind Slough had lots of blueberries, which lured lots of bears. “It was just a wonderful spot to be,” she said.
When she came back to Petersburg from Blind Slough, there were ”opportunities galore for work” so Gloria couldn’t bear to leave. Besides, she met Dave Ohmer, her future husband. Gloria did her husband’s bookkeeping to allow him some free time since he was busy either shrimping or at the cannery doing what needed to be done. She also raised their five children: four girls and one boy. Her husband passed away in December of 1979.
Today, Gloria owns the Tides Inn Motel. Previously, she and her sister-in-law, Patti Norheim, owned a store in Petersburg for 16 years and when an opportunity to become partner in the Tides Inn Hotel with Karen and “Albie” (Albert) Hofstad surfaced 24 years ago, she jumped at the chance. After a year and a half, she purchased the remaining interest from the Hofstads and has expanded the facility to accommodate growth from the small cruise ship industry, especially from the Cruise West vessel, Sheltered Seas.
Gloria remains optimistic towards the future, even though she has seen sometimes drastic changes to the economy of Petersburg. Besides, as she said earlier, she just couldn’t bear to leave.
Her current husband, Don, a busy contractor in the region for most of his life, took his turn at community service in Petersburg serving as Mayor and also as City Manager. They continue to be proud supporters of Petersburg, the place they call home.
Ohmer Family History
In 1916 Earl Ohmer established the Alaskan Glacier Sea Food Company - the first and last shrimp processing plant in the state of Alaska. Earl was born in Dayton, Ohio. In the early 1900s, he worked on a ranch breaking horses in eastern Oregon. He was the first Ohmer to call Petersburg home in 1914 when the town was in its infancy. Earl arrived in Alaska with the aim of starting the first shore-based shrimp processing plant. His future investments included: additional fish processing plants, gold mines, mink and fox farms, and extensive real estate. Earl also gave his time to public service as a multi-term mayor of Petersburg and over 20 years as the chairman of Alaska Territorial Fish and Wildlife Commission. His mark remains in many ways with conservation laws he passed still protecting Alaska’s natural resources, and regional water ways bearing his name. The original shrimp plant he established is the last remaining shrimp producer in the state, more than 85 years after it began.While making his contribution to Alaska’s developing business and public service sectors, Earl also raised a family with his wife, Loyla. Their marriage produced three sons and a daughter (Bob, Dave, Jim and Patti).
Through the Depression, World War II, and the transition of Alaska
from a territory into statehood the Ohmers contributed to a growing
Petersburg. When Earl died in 1955, his son Dave took over as
President of Alaska Glacier Sea Food. Dave also served on the
hospital board for 25 years and as a multi-term President of the
Petersburg Chamber of Commerce.
Dave's wife, Gloria collaborated with Patti Ohmer-Norheim to form “The Cache” a general merchandise store that had everything needed to raise a family, run a business, or have a hobby in a small Alaskan town. Patti and Gloria’s successful association at “The Cache” continued after the business sold when they focused their efforts on property management.
Gloria became the center of the Ohmer family business when her husband, Dave, died in 1979. She later purchased the Tides Inn Motel as a partner and within a few years became its sole proprietor. The Tides Inn grew and expanded under Gloria’s leadership. Her warm personality and gracious hospitality has become legend with Tides Inn guests, many of whom have become close friends.
The Ohmer family history reflects their love of the local environment, great pride of community and the desire to share the beauty and uniqueness of Petersburg with those who have interest in the area.