The Fairbanks and North Pole communities lost a popular resident to Covid-19 this week.
Aaron Worthen, a North Pole cannabis grower, succumbed to the virus at 10 a.m. Thursday. A lifelong resident of the Fairbanks area and known for both his cannabis knowledge and his generosity, Worthen’s death has left many in the region grieving.
Worthen, 51, owned Frozen North Farms in North Pole, where he had lived for 46 years. After his death was announced, there was an outpouring of condolences and memories on various cannabis Facebook groups. His strains made him popular among the Alaska cannabis community, but Worthen was also known by many for his friendly personality.
“Everyone knows Hippie Aaron,” said Rhonda Howard, Worthen’s wife and partner for 14 years. Howard described her husband — who was “the biggest hippie around” — as happy-go-lucky, intelligent and generous.
“He was a really smart, caring guy,” who never held a grudge for too long, said lifelong friend Dan Peters. Peters added that Worthen was always willing to help others out and knew many people in the community. “You couldn’t go to the store without him talking to people for five to 10 minutes,” Peters said.
Peters, co-owner of GoodSinse, and Worthen were close friends for close to 30 years. The two met as teenagers and stayed in touch, both raising families in the Fairbanks area.
“He was definitely my oldest friend,” Peters said. Worthen and Peters shared many interests — most notably cannabis — but fishing and camping as well.
Worthen had a variety of hobbies and careers, which included time in the military and as a helicopter pilot.
“He had so much under his belt,” Howard said. Her husband was especially proud of his cannabis farm, which he built from the ground up, she said.
Worthen’s involvement in the cannabis community is extensive. Before legalization, Worthen was “black market all the way,” Howard said. He began legally selling cannabis as soon as it was possible, and eventually distributed throughout the state.
“He was really, really knowledgeable about cannabis,” Peters said of Worthen.
Worthen had been hospitalized with Covid-19 and pneumonia for nearly a month. However, his death was sudden and left his family and friends reeling.
“Complete shock and disbelief,” said Peters, who had thought his friend was recovering.
“It’s a lot because it was so unexpected,” said Howard. “He fought so hard for a month ... but I know that he’s in a better place.”
Worthen is survived by his wife, two daughters, a grandson, his parents and many friends.
“Everyone needs to know how much his family and friends loved him,” Howard said. “We’re all suffering, but we’ll all lift each other up.”
Contact reporter Maisie Thomas at 459-7544.