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Jeanmarie Larson Crumb was born on the summer solstice, June 21, 1945 at St. Joseph’s hospital in Fairbanks, Alaska. Her mother could hear the cheering from the crowd watching the traditional midnight sun baseball game. The new baby was born at the end of the Second World War, at a time that the United States and her allies emerged victorious. It was a time of hope and soon became a time of great prosperity and growth, “the fabulous fifties”. Although her family had modest means, the optimism of the times profoundly influenced Jeanmarie’s world view. At the time of her graduation from high school in 1963, the direction that the country and the world seemed to be headed was encouragingly positive. The optimistic outlook became a permanent part of her character.
Her mother Alice read to her from an early age and helped her to learn the alphabet before starting school. Thus began a lifelong love of books. Her Fairbanks elementary school did not have a library for the elementary grades, but each elementary classroom had two or three large bookcases filled with children’s literature. In grade three the entire collection of books was exchanged with the other third grade class at the Christmas holiday. Jeanmarie remembers reading all of the books from both collections.
Strict and demanding old fashioned teachers with lace up shoes with clunky heels were the norm at Main school in Fairbanks. In fifth grade Miss Wilson required recitation of lengthy poems in front of the class. Although Fairbanks was a small isolated town in the far north, the education system was exceptional.
Her father fostered in her the expectation that she would attend college. Beginning with grade 7, he had her accompany him to the bank every two weeks when he received his paycheck. He had her fill out a deposit slip and deposit $20.00 into her college fund. The resulting accumulation of funds paid for tuition and books when she attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Deeply rooted in Alaska, Jeanmarie Larson Crumb can trace her Native heritage back five generations. Participation in cultural activities and in her Native corporation, Doyon, Ltd., has always been important to her.
Throughout her lifetime she was privileged to receive information, cooperation, and inspiration from many individuals. She acknowledges that her success was dependent upon their encouragement and support. First and foremost she would like to express gratitude to her parents, Albert E. Larson and Alice E. Larson. Her father worked as an engineer on the steamer Nenana for 18 years. Her mother was at one time the youngest postmaster in Alaska.
She would like to recognize her elementary school teachers Gladys Wilson and secondary teachers Doris D Ray and Margie Johnson, as well as her University of Alaska professor David E. Clarke. She also says that D. M. (Mick) Murphy and Ray Barnhart were wonderfully supportive managers of the Alaska Rural Teacher Training Corps (ARTTC). Dennis Demmert is to be credited for telling Jeanmarie about the Harvard American Indian Program. Edna Lamebull was unfailingly supportive during their years together at the Anchorage School District. Patty Dolese shared the day to day management of the Migrant Education Summer Camps and became a permanent friend. Jeanmarie’s academic advisor for her USC doctoral program was Dr. John W. Stallings. He authorized her to be able to finish her coursework in Alaska after she discovered that she was severely allergic to the Los Angeles smog. Other friends who played vital roles are Kristine Block and Dee Gould.
Upon completion of her Masters degree in Education at Harvard, Jeanmarie Larson Crumb was invited by Senator Ted Stevens to work in his Washington D.C. Office. She politely declined, as she had decided to resume her career in Alaska. Early in her career she had decided to focus her efforts on serving Alaska Native people. She had the good fortune to work for the Fairbanks Native Association, the Alaska Federation of Natives, the Alaska Native Foundation, Cook Inlet Native Association, and the Alaska Native Health Board.
Passage of the federal Indian Self Determination Act in 1974 coincided with her appointment in December of 1975 to President/Executive Director of the Cook Inlet Native Association (CINA). BeIng In the right place at the right time meant that the organization went through a period of rapid growth as the new law enabled Native American non profits to begin to take over management of programs formerly managed by the federal government. During her tenure both BIA Social Services and Employee Assistance were transferred to CINA. While at Cook Inlet Native Association she initiated regional health programs that became the model for the rest of the state. CINA eventually grew into the Southcentral Foundation.
Jeanmarie Larson Crumb believes that she was born at the perfect time to participate in Alaska community life, as her life has been synonymous with larger major historical waves such as the end of World War II, the Women’s Movement, the Alaska Native Land Claims Settlement Act, the Indian Self-Determination Act, and the environmental movement.
She has been a role model for other women who aspire to careers in public service, public health and education. Since a second retirement in 2006 Jeanmarie has enjoyed traveling and spends a few months in the winter in an RV community in Arizona. She is also working on a book about her mother’s life.
Chronological List of Positions and degrees earned:
Social Studies/, English Teacher, Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, 1968-1969
Program Manager, Employee Assistance Program, Fairbanks Native Association, 1969-1971
Deputy Director, Alaska Federation of Natives, Alaska Student Higher Education Services, 1971-1972
Alaska State Operated Schools System, Project Assistant, Alaska Rural Teacher Training Program, 1972-1974
Harvard Graduate School of Education, 1974-1975, Ed. M.
Executive Director/President Cook Inlet Native Association, 1975-1977
Alaska Native Foundation Village Management Assistance Program, 1978-1979
Anchorage School District, Director of Community Relations, 1979-1988
Coordinator Migrant Education Anchorage School District, 1989-1997
University of Southern California, Ed. D, School Administration, 1992
Candidate for Lt. Gov. Green Party, 1990
Barbara Brennan School of Healing, Certificate, 1999
Health Policy Specialist, Alaska Native Health Board, 2002-2004
State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Tobacco Disparities Coordinator, 2004-2006
Alaska Native Education Association
Alaska Governor’s Council on Career and Vocational Education (served 8 years, chaired one year)
Alaska Children’s Services Board of Directors
Cook Inlet Soroptimist Club
Commissioners Coalition for Native Education
Anchorage School District Indian Education Advisory Committee (chair)
Anchorage School District Minority Educational Concerns Committee
Alaska Challenger Learning Center Steering/Advisory Committee
Phi Delta Kappa
Who’s Who of American Women 1989/1990 Edition
Notable Alaskan Women published by the Alaska Commission on the Status of Women
Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/upLJ930ayeM