Goldpanner Chevron on Cushman Street was Mike Stoner’s first job at age 14 and the place where he went after school.
The business sustained the Stoner family for decades and helped thousands of Fairbanks residents keep their vehicles on the road.
On Friday, Goldpanner Chevron’s last day of business, Stoner thought about how many vehicles have been repaired at the service station over the last 50 or so years.
“A hundred thousand,” he surmised.
The Stoner family hosted a barbecue celebration Friday to say goodbye. The service station was purchased by University Refuse and will reopen as a gas station and repair shop under a new name.
The Stoners were joined by previous owner Jerry Krier and some of his family. In 1976, Krier sold the Chevron station to Vern Stoner, Mike’s father, who was Krier’s employee at the time, and who operated it until suffering a stroke in 2019.
Mike Stoner was semi-retired and living Outside when he came to Alaska to help his parents. He said it’s past time that the service station was sold. Vern Stoner is approaching 80 years old.
In an age of convenience store gas stations, Goldpanner Chevron maintained a loyal following and served generations of Fairbanks residents. Vern Stoner thought of himself as the neighborhood mechanic.
“Parents, their kids and now the grandkids. It’s cool,” Stoner said in a 2018 interview. “That’s a by-product of being here so long.”
He bought the business after working there for six years. Krier recalled what it was like to work alongside Stoner.
At quitting time, “he’d say, ‘You hear that?’” Krier said. “‘That’s the waterfall at the Midnight Mine’ (a local bar).”
Krier owned the service station for about 10 years before selling it to Stoner and another employee, who was eventually bought out by Stoner.
“I did everything,” Krier said. “I even mopped the floors and cleaned the bathrooms.”
He pointed to Stoner. “He worked hard at it, damn hard,” Krier said.
“When we were working, we went about 12 hours a day,” Krier said. “And we still had time to go out and play.”
The two men sat together at the cookout while friends and family meandered over to pay their respects.
“It was more about people than anything else,” Mike Stoner said.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/FDNMborough.