Anker, 82: Banker, Tuolumne advocate

BIG OAK FLAT -- Wallace "Wally" Anker, who worked to preserve history and the environment in his native Tuolumne County after a career in international banking, died April 22. He was 82.

Mr. Anker successfully fought the Clavey River hydroelectric project, proposed for a Tuolumne River tributary by the Turlock Irrigation District. He also helped create a museum with the Southern Tuolumne County Historical Society.

Last fall, Mr. Anker fulfilled a dream by opening a restaurant at Priest Station, where his ancestors had served visitors atop steep Priest Grade since the mid-1800s.

"It was like coming full circle," said son Steven Anker, who works at the restaurant. "He left a very good legacy with the museum and the Clavey River. All the kids were really glad that we could spend time with him."

Mr. Anker was a senior vice president of First National Bank of Chicago and a comptroller for the U.S. Treasury. During his career, he lived in places such as Tokyo, London, New York City and San Francisco.

He retired in the 1980s to his boyhood ranch near Big Oak Flat and got involved with several environmental and historical groups.

Mr. Anker was an avid outdoorsman. His other son, Conrad Anker, is a renowned mountaineer who has climbed Mount Everest and many other peaks.

The restaurant, Priest Station Cafe and Store, sits on a major route to Yosemite National Park. The property, which had a thriving hotel until a 1926 brush fire, was sold by the family in 1969 and reacquired in 2007.

"I always wanted to acquire this since the day it was sold," Mr. Anker said in a November interview.

He also is survived by his wife, Helga; daughters, Kim Anker Paddon and Denise Anker; and several grandchildren.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. June 19 at Mary Laveroni Park in Groveland.

Remembrances may be made to the Southern Tuolumne County Historical Society, P.O. Box 1849, Big Oak Flat 95305; or to Vichara Monastery, 10049 Ernst Road, Coulterville 95311.