Class of 2011
Achievement in: Health and Education
Elaine was the first Tlingit registered nurse in Alaska. During her career, she worked for the Indian Health Service in Juneau, Mt. Edgecumbe School in Sitka, and in Bethel during diphtheria and tuberculosis epidemics. She also was instrumental in the creation of the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage in 1954. In her education career Elaine played a major role in the expansion of rural educational opportunities. She co-founded the Alaska Native Language Center, created programs to recruit and retain Alaska Native students in higher education, and, as Vice-President for Rural Educational Affairs of the University Alaska, she was instrumental in initiating campuses in Nome, Barrow, Tanana, Kotzebue, Sitka, Ketchikan, Valdez, the Aleutians, and Kodiak. In 1976, Elaine became the Vice President for Rural Education Affairs of the University of Alaska statewide system — she was the first Native American and the first woman to hold a senior position in the statewide administration. Elaine currently serves as the Chair of the Alaska Native Science Commission, which supports scientific research that ensures the protection of indigenous cultures and builds bridges between Western science and traditional ways of knowing. (more…)
Katharine “Kit” Crittenden
Achievement In: Parks, Historic Preservation and Urban Beautification
Kit lived in Anchorage from 1949-2010. She changed the face of the community by bringing people together around the ideas of beautification and preservation.
This mother of six children will be remembered for her role in the creation of the Chester Creek Greenbelt, the preservation of the Oscar Anderson House at Elderberry Park, establishing the Urban Design Commission, and creating the Anchorage Historic Preservation Commission, which she chaired for ten years. In 2001 she authored “GetMears! Frederick Mears: Builder of the Alaska Railroad”, a nationally recognized biography of Col. Frederick Mears, who supervised the construction of the Alaska Railroad and was also responsible for the planning and design of the townsite that became Anchorage. In 1990 Kit was responsible for the community effort to preserve Second Avenue buildings, which were laid out by Mears in 1915.
Kit’s significant efforts brought the people of Anchorage to value the community’s beauty and history. Kit was a pioneer for community involvement. Her accomplishments show that with a strong vision, tempered speech and firm persistence, a voice for beautification and preservation can be heard. Kit Crittenden made Anchorage a better place to live. (more…)
1924 – 2010
Achievement in Philanthropy/Community Organizing
An adventurous Betty Jane Puckett (she later became known as Betti) left her home in a small Nebraska town in the early 1940s, met and married her life-long partner Dan Cuddy in Seattle, then spent her honeymoon driving the new Alaska Highway north. Her community leadership began when she volunteered as a Girl Scout leader in Anchorage. She held a seat on the organizational committee for Alaska Methodist University, now Alaska Pacific University. In the 1960s, she organized the Treasures of Sight and Sound (TOSS), the predecessor to the Community Schools Program. Through TOSS, Anchorage children received instruction in gymnastics, music, singing and many other theater activities. The Greater Anchorage Chamber of Commerce awarded a Gold Pan Award to TOSS in recognition of Betti’s work.
Betti Cuddy sat on the State Board of Education in the late 1970s, and served as a board member of Alaska Center for the Performing Arts and that group’s Symphony Committee. She served as secretary/treasurer of the Anchorage Women’s Club, and helped form that organization’s FREE committee, a women’s only political advocacy effort in the 1970s. Betti was named honorary chairwoman of the YWCA Anchorage Academy of Woman Achievers. She played a major role in the renovation of the Lucy Cuddy Center on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus and helped develop a renewed focus for the culinary arts and hospitality programs. In her most recent years, Betti was a supporter of the Cuddy Family Midtown Park near the Loussac Library in Anchorage. When completed, the park will include a covered stage and seating area for outdoor theatrical venues. (more…)
Nan Elaine “Lanie” Fleischer
Achievement in: Community Activism
Incredulous that Anchorage had no system of trails in 1971, much less sidewalks or shoulders to walk on, Lanie persuaded her friends to form the Bike Day Committee to advocate for a trail system. Her vision was to have a system that would connect schools with libraries and parks so that children could travel the city without having to be driven. She organized a “bike in” and 300 people participated. Amazed and inspired by that turnout, Lanie and committee members started organizing efforts that culminated in the passage of a bond issue in 1973 to finance the first trail along Chester Creek. Lanie, considered the “Mother of the Trail System,” was recognized and honored by the mayor and assembly in 1994 when it named that trail the “Lanie Fleischer Chester Creek Trail”. Her vision, determination and leadership has led to what many now consider to be a world-class trail system.
Lanie has helped to build Anchorage in other ways as well. She organized the original eight community councils and created the Federation of Community Councils; founded and fostered the downtown Saturday Market; worked to create an optional school choice; helped develop the park system; and served on the Town Square Advisory Committee. She worked for 15-years for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Anchorage. Governors Hammond and Knowles appointed her to various state boards and commissions. (more…)
Joerene Savikko Hout
Achievement in: Health Care, Education, Activism
Born in Juneau to parents who were teachers in the winter and fished commercially in the summer, Joerene Savikko Hout’s elementary and high school years were spent in Ketchikan. As a young girl, Joerene observed differences in health care and social acceptance. Some were allowed to attend the Ketchikan public schools and others had to attend the Indian school.
Becoming a Public Health nurse, Joerene was determined to be a catalyst for change in how Native people were treated in the public health system. When she discovered that many children were taken from their village homes for medical care by the public health service without consent forms or informing the parents of the children’s location and condition, she was determined to be the liaison to assure and secure travel rights for one parent to accompany the child. Joerene became an advocate to reconnect children with their parents. She founded the Bethel Prematernal Home to dramatically reduce the death rate of mothers and children in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
Joerene brought creative educational programs to Alaska to assist employers in understanding needs, qualifications and modifying techniques to help men and women with disabilities do their jobs well. She chaired the Governor’s Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities under both Gov. Hammond and Gov. Sheffield. Between 1982 and 1984, she was secretary and chairman of the National Conference of Governors Committees on Employment of the Handicapped as well as serving on the President’s Committee in planning and the executive board.
Joerene was able to provide in-depth health care because she built very real bonds of trust with women in the community. Joerene brought laughter, news of the town, conversation and friendship with sincere respect, and reminded these women there was a world outside of their kitchens and encouraged them to join it. (more…)
Achievement in Education/Journalism
Lael began her journalism career as a reporter for the Malden, Massachusetts, Press, then moved to Alaska in 1959. She worked for Alaska Methodist University then moved into advertising. In the mid ’60s, Lael worked for a time in canneries, then was hired as a photojournalist at the Juneau Empire, covered crime, politics and the legislature for the Fairbanks Daily New Miner and Jessen’s Weekly and freelanced for the Tundra Times and other publications around the state. In 1968, Lael worked at the Los Angeles Times, then returned to Alaska for assignments with the Tundra Times, National Geographic, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Alaska Northwest Publishing.
She joined the Department of Journalism and Broadcasting, University of Alaska Fairbanks, in 1988, where she taught writing, photography, and multimedia. Since 1999, Lael has been managing editor, then publisher of the Casco Bay Weekly, an alternative newspaper in Portland, Maine, and served as visiting professor at University of Texas at Arlington. Chicago Review Press has slated her book “Wanton West: Madams, Money, Murder, and the Wild Women of Montana’s Frontier” for publication in June 2011, and Epicenter Press is publishing her biography of an Inupiat Eskimo star “From Tundra to Tinseltown, The Ray Wise Mala Story”, in the spring. Although currently in Maine, Lael continues to serve as Acquisitions Editor for Epicenter Press. She also has coordinated the Ray Wise Mala Film festival in conjunction with the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Alaska Native Land Claim Settlement Act managed by the ANCSA@40 EVENTS Committee. (more…)
Ruth Elin Hall Ost
1886 – 1953
Achievement in: Missionary and Community Activism
An American-born daughter of Swedish immigrants, Ruth Elin Hall Ost grew up in the Midwest. She married the Reverend Ludvig Evald Ost in 1910 in Wisconsin and the newlyweds moved to Nome immediately to work as missionaries for the Swedish Covenant Church.
During her years in Northwest, Ruth assisted her husband in running and managing the missions and children’s homes as well as owning and operating several businesses, including a reindeer herd and gold mine. She was a gifted musician and taught music, instruments and voice to many children in the area. She served as correspondent and bookkeeper and conducted a correspondence school for the Sunday school and Bible school teachers in the Alaska district for the Church. She also provided midwifery services and lost only one baby.
Ruth helped establish sound educational facilities and good health-care practices in regions of Alaska that had none. Her efforts to get territorial schools opened in rural Alaska communities have had lasting benefit for generations of Alaskans.
Tay Thomas wrote in Cry in the Wilderness: “Mrs. Ost was a remarkable woman who was credited with much of the success of the Covenant Church Mission in Northwest Alaska.” From an early age, she had crippling arthritis. Upon her death, the executive secretary of the Covenant World Missions wrote, “Her wheelchair was an altar where those who came found salvation, restoration, healing and comfort.” (more…)
Leah Webster Peterson
1908 – 2007
Achievement in: Education, Anchorage Pioneer, Art
In 1939, Leah and her husband Chester arrived by steamer at Karluk village on Kodiak Island to accept teaching positions with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. They were the first teachers in the village for many years and as such were made very welcome. In 1941 they moved to Anchorage where she taught in the only school, Anchorage Territorial, as one of 43 teachers staffing all levels of education from elementary through senior high school.
Leah remained in the Anchorage school system for 42 years, serving in many positions from classroom teacher to curriculum coordinator. Leah was a passionate educator and eventually became the first female principal in Alaska. Leah was voted Teacher of the Year in 1948. She published, “This is Alaska”, a social science text and workbook for third and fourth grades that was adopted by the State of Alaska in 1959.
Leah gave of herself, time after time, in service to the profession of education, her community and society at large. After retirement, Leah continued in public service as president of a number of retired teachers’ associations, member of the State Board of Retirement and she was, for more than 30 years, on the Board of Trustees for Alaska Pacific University.
Leah was a pioneer of education in Alaska, helping build an educational system from frontier instruction to a solid educational organization. She devoted her life to the service of others, remaining young at heart while mentoring, counseling and attracting admirers of all ages. (more…)
Martha M. Roderick
1931 – 2008
Achievement in Education and Civic Involvement
Martha M. Roderick came to Alaska in 1955, met and married Jack Roderick, stayed and raised two daughters. Interested in politics, Martha joined organizations and served on local and state committees virtually from the time of her arrival in Alaska. After returning from a year in India, she pursued her interest in education. She served on Anchorage School District committees starting in 1969 and on the Anchorage School Board from 1984-1988, her last year as President. For more than 40 years, Martha contributed her time, intelligence, skill, and energy to helping young people read, and to working to help Anchorage have an excellent school system. She believed the ability to read could make a difference between a life of success and one of discouragement. The Martha Roderick Books for Kids Fund, established after her death in 2008, allows her family to continue her program of giving a “for keeps” book to every child at Fairview Elementary School. (more…)
Achievements in: Political Activism, Native Issues
Born and raised on the Kenai Peninsula, Clare Swan worked for decades to preserve and protect the subsistence fishing rights of the Kenaitze Indians following passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANSCA) in 1971. She had the foresight to realize the significant impact of ANCSA on future generations of Alaska Native people. She spent two decades immersed in research and litigation, culminating in the Kenaitze Indian Tribe receiving State regulations and rights on the eve of open fishing in June 1989. That decision has had long reaching legal ramifications, extending to Indian grazing rights in Southwest America.
In the late 1970s Clare worked to establish the Cook Inlet Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. While serving as Chair of the Kenaitze Indian Tribe she helped establish the Dena’ina Health Clinic and youth and community agricultural programs. She served on the Board of Directors for Cook Inlet Region, Inc. (CIRI) and the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) 1998, the latter as Chair since 2000. In her “spare time”, Clare has advocated for women and children through the Indian Child Welfare Act, worked and supported the Women’s Crisis Center in Kenai, and volunteered with the court system.
In 2009 Clare was honored with the Alaska Federation of Natives President’s Award for Elder of the Year. She is most thankful to her husband of 60 years “who has supported me as person.” (more…)
Helen Stoddard Whaley, M.D.
1924 – 1971
Achievement in: Medicine
Dr. Helen Whaley came to Alaska in l954 – the first woman pediatrician in the state – and a pioneer in championing medical and educational resources for all Alaska children, especially those with physical and developmental disabilities. Known as a brilliant clinician, she was tireless in the treatment and support of “her kids”. Dr. Whaley co-founded the Anchorage Pediatric Group (1956); founded the Alaska Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (1965); directed the Alaska Crippled Children’s Treatment Center; founded the Child Study Center in Anchorage, which provided diagnostic services for brain-injured and handicapped children; and provided pediatric consultation services to the Alaska Native Hospital.
Dr. Whaley’s vision and drive changed the lives of hundreds of children and continues to do so today through the organizations she founded and co-founded. Her achievements are even more remarkable when viewed against the tragedies of her early years. Helen’s life story is one of courage and determination. Her prominent father shot himself when she was 9, leaving her family in poverty. Helen, who had a learning disability, and her four younger brothers, were parceled out to relatives. Two years later, when Helen was 11, her mother died of breast cancer. In l944, at age 20 and grimly determined, she was cleaning out tank cars, working her way through medical school at the University of California Berkley. Helen Whaley received her M.D. in l950, served her pediatric residency at UC San Francisco, and was chief pediatric resident at the University of Colorado General Hospital before coming to Alaska. Against all odds, Helen Whaley made it to the top of her field. For the rest of her life she shared her knowledge and energy with Alaska’s children.
Helen Whaley died of breast cancer in l971 at the age of 47. In l973 the Whaley Center in Anchorage, a special education center for children with significant disabilities, was named in her honor. (more…)
1932 – 2011
Achievement In: Education and Community Service
Inspired by her clergyman father and Quaker education, Caroline Wohlforth has served the Anchorage community for approximately 40 years through work on founding and early boards of KSKA public radio and KAKM public television, the Alaska Public Broadcasting Commission, Planned Parenthood, Childcare Connection (now known as Thread), Fellowship in Service to Humanity (FISH) and the Educational Center, in conjunction with St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.
Caroline identifies as her proudest achievement her work revolutionizing education in Anchorage through her integral work in the creation of Chugach Optional Elementary and Steller Secondary schools in the 1970s. After firmly launching these new schools, Caroline served on the Anchorage School Board where she was president for two terms. She is proud of the fact that the Anchorage School District now provides a broad variety of learning experiences to fit the needs of students. (more…)
Patricia B. Wolf
Achievement in: Museum Direction, Education
Patricia Ann Brauman Wolf was raised in New York and earned a degree in English from Johns Hopkins University. The Air Force brought the Wolf family to Alaska.
In 1973, Pat received a Rockefeller Fellowship in Museum Education and Programs, in 1974 she became the curator of education, and in1987 she became chief executive officer of the Anchorage Museum.
Pat has participated in three expansions of the museum’s physical facilities. She played a lead role in expanding their educational programming, quadrupled the collections and organized numerous local and temporary exhibitions.
Through her efforts, the Smithsonian Institution’s Arctic Studies Center is housed at the Anchorage Museum. In 2007 she was awarded the Smithson Medal, the Smithsonian Institution’s most prestigious and highest award.
Through the years, Pat sought to make the museum not only an outstanding institution for Alaska art, history and, most recently, science but promoted accessibility of the museum’s facilities as the “community’s living room” for use by groups, individuals and businesses; a gathering place for local cultural and artistic endeavors as well as a location for high school proms, weddings and art classes for children.
She and her husband, Dr. Aaron Wolf, raised three children: Jonathan Paul, Lisa Ellen, and Laurie Beth. In 2003 the YWCA recognized her as a Woman of Achievement.
Pat retired from the Anchorage Museum in 2007 and continues her involvement with museums and libraries serving as proprietor for a consulting firm, Museumomentum. (more…)