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Forever in our Hearts





Brother, son, athlete, artist, ray of light, and joy to all.


Born in Juneau, Alaska

January 24th, 1979

Carl Cogland Behnert, beloved son, brother, and friend to many was born on January 24, 1979, in Juneau, Alaska, near the glimmering Mendenhall Glacier and in the shadow of Thunder Mountain. He also passed away there on October 27, 2023, in his loving parent's arms. His family is very proud of the man he became and joyful for the wonderful life he led.

Carl attended Mendenhall River Elementary, Floyd Dryden Middle School, and Juneau-Douglas High School (including the Transition Program), where he graduated with honors and a budding ability in sign language. He moved into his own apartments to become as independent as possible afterward.

At 16, while still in school, Carl worked at Valley Video (which later became Blockbuster), where he was the longest-running Alaska employee until the company shuttered 15 years later. He also worked at the Fiddlehead restaurant, the Forest Service's Regional Office and Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, and Safeway-at times holding three jobs at once. Carl worked at The Hangar on the Wharf for 23 years, where the team there became like a second family for him. Carl was very proud of all the jobs he held and appreciated his many employers. He also volunteered at the Glory Hall.

Carl loved to wear a gold medal wherever he went from among the many he had won in skiing, track and field, and bowling competitions. Carl learned to ski in SAIL's ORCA program and later carried the torch as a skier in the 2001 Special Olympics World Games in Anchorage 2001 (where he was thrilled to meet Arnold Schwarzenegger and several then-famous Olympians). He became a First Class Boy Scout and liked to canoe and fish during family excursions and to play chess, checkers, Uno, or Sorry, when the weather closed in.

Carl loved the arts. He enjoyed seeing theater productions, ballet and the Juneau symphony. He was a frequent actor in REACH CANVAS stage productions and even starred as Detective Desmond Flak in a short film. Being a drummer in the Stroller White Pipes & Drums (now City of Juneau Pipe Band), performing at Robbie Burn's Nights, and marching in July Fourth parades brought him great joy. He had an excellent eye for color in his artwork. He was almost encyclopedic in his knowledge of movies and music. From show tunes to country music to '90s hip hop, he constantly listened, learned, and belted out tunes (or raps!). Laurel and Hardy, superheroes, and Broadway musicals were favorites in his well-used video and CD collections, and he was often found munching popcorn and enjoying the newest release at the local cinema. Carl was also an avid user of Juneau's libraries.

Carl looked forward to traveling and experiencing new places. Adventures in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Washington, Canada, Germany, and Mexico were great treats for him-filled with friends, family, musicals, museums, Disneyland, Dairy Queens, new pizza varieties, and learning to speak some German and Spanish.

Carl faced life with resolute optimism and overcame many challenges. He had a nuanced understanding of the life that came with being born with Down's Syndrome and his accompanying serious cardiac and pulmonary conditions that would ultimately limit his lifespan. He had open heart surgery as an infant and would brave numerous health issues and treatments during his life. He courageously faced discrimination when it came his way. To process his experiences, Carl sought counsel from family, friends, and treasured support staff. He developed a highly metaphorical take on the world and a deeply personal spirituality that would draw him to several wonderful church communities. Carl led grace at every meal with a prayer of thanks to his Lord, peppered with plenty of personal notes of love for friends and family, good wishes for pets, and sometimes sly requests for things on his current wish list. He became a person that people would often look to for his innate wisdom and unique insights.

Carl was a ray of light to his family, friends, coworkers, and many he had just met. He was known for his kindness, humor, loyalty, and curiosity. He had close and enduring friendships and often talked about people he had cared for throughout his life and even some he only knew from shuttling around town on the bus.

It is his family's hope that all who befriended Carl will keep his loving and optimistic spirit alive in their hearts. His family is sincerely grateful to the many people of Juneau who helped to make our town such a supportive place for him.

Carl was preceded in death by his grandparents, Lena and Fred Mausezahl, and Anita and Horst Behnert. He is survived by his parents, Sue and Rai Behnert; sister Lara Behnert and her partner Derek Harn; his extended family aunt Jo Norton, aunt Sue Ankenman, cousin Jari Schiffmann, and their families; best friends Christopher Knoll and Michelle Boster; his chosen aunts and uncles Janet and Lou Wegryn and Georgeann and Peter Gongora and their families; and the family dog, Haddie.

A celebration of life is being planned for the spring. In the meantime, please share your photos and memories of Carl's life here.

A Life Well Lived


See more photos in the Gallery and add your own pictures in Memories.
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