Pictured: Back L-R: Lorrie Louise (Angelo) Horning, Mary Lou (Neville) King, Edna (Angeak) MacLean, Ph.D. Front L-R: Alice Stevenson Green, Jeanmarie (Larson) Crumb, Ed.D,

Not Pictured: Poldine (Demoski) Carlo, Frederica de Laguna, Ph.D., Mary Laurie (Espinosa) Epperson, Margaret Lowe, Dorothy (Guzzi)Page, Michelle “Miss” Ridgway, Beatrice “Bea” Rose

Photo of Poldine (Demoski) Carlo

Poldine (Demoski) Carlo

Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Alaska Native Cultural Leadership

Poldine Carlo, an Athabascan Indian, was born December 5, 1920 in Nulato, Alaska. She was a founding member, along with three others in the formation of the Fairbanks Native Association (FNA), setting the stage to what has become an organization leading changes in the community through service and legislation over the years. Her knowledge, wisdom, and persistence have guided the creation and growth of FNA. What started as four people meeting around Carlo’s kitchen table has grown into a multi-million dollar organization with staff of over 200.

Carlo is also an active member of the Denakkanaaga Board of Directors, the University of Alaska Chancellor’s Advisory Committee, Alaska Native Education Advisory Board, North Star Borough Senior Citizens Commission, Alaska Bicentennial Commission Board, Aboriginal Senior Citizens of Alaska and many other organizations, including the Koyukon Athabascan Singers. She serves as an elder/mentor during the World Eskimo/Indian Olympics and can be seen participating in every Doyon, Limited shareholder meeting. Through her early demonstration of gathering people, Carlo continues to accept any opportunity to show support to those in times of need by volunteering her support. For more than 15 years, Carlo shared Athabascan traditions with children through a program of cultural enrichment in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, continuing to teach different groups today upon request.

Awards and Honors Received:

. 2001 UAF Honorary Doctorate of Law Degree

. 2012 Hannah Paul Solomon “Woman of Courage” award

. 2015 BP Golden Citizens Chieftain award

. Poldine Carlo FNA Head Start Building

. Farthest North Girl Scout Council Women of Distinction award, based on a nominee’s accomplishments and their role as mentors for other women

She is also an accomplished author, with the publication of Nulato: An Indian Life on the Yukon.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/W8KiuspsAeo

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Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Alaska Native Cultural Leadership

Poldine Demoski Carlo is an author and an elder of the Koyukon Athabascan of interior Alaska. She was born in Nulato, Territory of Alaska in 1920. She grew up in a traditional manner where her family hunted moose, picked berries and fished for salmon on lands and river adjacent to the village.

Carlo married William “Bill” Carlo in 1940. They have produced eight children: five sons (William, Jr., Kenny, Walter, Glenn, and Stewart), and three daughters (Dorothy, Lucy, and Kathleen). and dozens of grand children and great grandchildren.

When  Carlo and her husband Bill first moved to Fairbank in the mid fifties, Alaska Natives didn’t have a meeting place to call their own.  They wanted to talk about better education and economic opportunities, as well as civil rights.

“Even the people who didn’t drink had no place to go In the 50’s and 60’s except the bars,” said Carlo.  “We started inviting them over to our house. For two or three winters, we had different village mushers and their dogs staying here in the woods behind our house.” That all changed after Carlo’s relative Ralph Perdue suggested to her that they start a Native organization in Fairbanks.

“I really didn’t have a vision of what the organization, the Fairbanks Native Association (FNA), would look like”, Carlo said.  “I would never have thought it would grow like it has. What started as four or five people meeting around the Carlo kitchen table has grown into a multi-million dollar organization with forty different programs and a staff or over 200”.

Since the 50s , Carlo has been involved with FNA through much of its growth by serving as a Board Member and advocate. Carlo is also an active member of the Denakkanaaga Board of Directors, which serves Elders in the interior region of the Tanana Chief’s Conference. She has also served on the University of Alaska Chancellor’s Advisory Committee, the Alaska Native Education Advisory Board, the North Star Borough Senior Citizens Commission, the Alaska Bicentennial Commission Board, the Aboriginal Senior Citizens of Alaska and many other organizations.

She serves as an Elder mentor during the World Eskimo Indian Olympics and can be seen participating in every Doyon, Limited Shareholder meeting. Carlo continues to accept many opportunities to show support to those in times of need by volunteering her support and her voice.


Poldine wrote, Nulato: An Indian Life on the Yukon, a novel describing life in the 1920’s and 1930’s growing up in the Athabascan way in the village of Nulato. Today one of the Athabascan traditions Poldine loves most is singing and dancing. In 1994, Pauline was profiled in “Singing We Come: Shaping our Future Through Language and Song,” an Institute of American Indian Arts collection of stories about Native women singers and storytellers from throughout the United States. Poldine wrote a powerful and moving song about her daughter, and she recently shared it with the Māori whānau visiting in Fairbanks. She continues to share her traditions through singing. She loves to sing with the Koyukon Athabascan Singers. In 2015 when she greeted President Barack Obama in Anchorage she sang an Athabascan song about Denali – to show him how important it was to return the name to indigenous roots.

Carlo has been a mentor to other women through her early demonstration of gathering people together to benefit the community. She continues to accept any opportunity to show support to those in need by volunteering her time. For more than 15 years, Poldine shared Athabascan traditions with children through a program of cultural enrichment in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. And she continues to teach different groups today upon request.

Fairbanks Native Association has named its main office building the Poldine Carlo Building in her honor. She is beloved throughout the region.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/W8KiuspsAeo

Photo of Jeanmarie (Larson) Crumb Ed.D.

Jeanmarie (Larson) Crumb Ed.D.

Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Education

Born in Fairbanks, Alaska to an Athabaskan mother and Scandinavian- heritage father, Jeanmarie Crumb has served Alaska in the arenas of education, health, and politics. She attended Fairbanks public schools, and went on to graduate from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and holds a doctorate in Educational Administration from the University of Southern California. Crumb was honored to serve as the President/Executive Director of the Cook Inlet Native Association, forerunner of the Southcentral Foundation. She worked as a Project Coordinator for the Alaska Rural Teacher Training Corps and later led the Community Relations Department for the Anchorage School District. In that position she oversaw several programs serving the needs of parents and students from the many cultural groups in the city. She was instrumental in laying the groundwork for East High’s  School Within  a School for Alaska Native Students. Other achievements with lasting effect included working with students whose families were eligible for Migrant Education services. After– school tutoring and summer Outdoor Education camps were positive influences on the lives of children. In addition, she worked for the Alaska Native Health Board and the State of Alaska Division of Health and Social Services in rural tobacco reduction.

In the arena of community service, Crumb ran for public office in 1990, as the Green Party candidate for Lt. Governor (Jim Sykes’ running mate). Between 1995 and 1999, she was privileged to attend the Barbara Brennan School of Healing and is a certified energy healer.  Crumb was honored by a listing in Who’s Who of American Women 1989-1990 edition.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/upLJ930ayeM

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Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Education

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

Community Involvement:

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

Honors/Awards Received:

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

Photo of Frederica de Laguna Ph.D.

Frederica de Laguna Ph.D.

Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Anthropology

Frederica de Laguna was a pioneer in anthropology whose contributions to understanding indigenous peoples stand as the definitive work for many Alaskan cultures. Her career spanned almost four decades, 1930-1968, and included research in Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound, the middle Yukon River, Copper Center and Yakutat. Her three-volume tome, Under Mount Saint Elias remains the definitive description of the Yakutat Tlingit who honored her with a clan name.

After graduating with honors from Bryn Mawr College in politics and economics, de Laguna took her Ph.D. at Columbia University under Franz Boas, her friend, mentor and father of American anthropology. In 1929, fieldwork in Greenland with the great Danish anthropologist, Therkel Mathiesen, launched her lifetime fascination with the Arctic.

A carved stone bowl with a human figure enticed de Laguns to travel to Cook Inlet where she conducted archaeological fieldwork 1930–1932. Describing, defining and naming the Kachemak Culture (Kachemak tradition), resulted in her first book, The Archaeology of Cook Inlet, Alaska, which remains the definitive description of the Kachemak people.

de Laguna was brilliant, curious, fearless, dedicated and persistent. She was a gifted writer and photographer as evidenced in many professional papers and books published (1934-2004). Her writings focused on archaeology and then ethnography when understanding the lives of living Natives became her passion. As a woman, de Laguna interviewed Native women, a privilege usually not available to male anthropologists.

At Bryn Mawr, de Laguna founded and chaired the anthropology department, teaching for 40 years, mentoring and inspiring others, especially young women. She demonstrated that women could be scholars and leaders in the male-dominated field of anthropology. In a career full of honors and awards, receiving the life-long achievement award in 1993 from the Alaska Anthropology Association was especially gratifying.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/ZYEiLa3i7-E

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Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Anthropology

Frederica Annis Lopez de Leo de Laguna was the first of two children born to Grace and Theodore de Laguna. Her formative years were spent in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, where her doting, devoted father provided her education at home until age nine. He regaled “Freddy” with the delights of distant people, places, and languages. During his visits to Japan and the Philippines, he had become intrigued with linguistics and translated and wrote songs in a dialect of the Pilipino language. Freddy thrived on his stories.

Freddy’s parents were professors of philosophy at Bryn Mawr College (BMC). Reading and critical thinking were elemental in the family. Adventure and travel stories were favorites and Freddy immersed herself in the literature of the North, especially inspired by narratives of famous European explorers such as Knud Rasmussen, Peter Freuchen, Therkel Mathiassen, and Kai Birket-Smith. Freddy occasionally acted upon what she read. Catharine McClellan, a student and later collaborator with Freddy during her Alaskan studies, wrote that Freddy sent Commander Donald MacMillian, who made over 30 expeditions to the Arctic, a letter in which she offered to chew his boots if he would take her on his next expedition. Not only did books transport her to tantalizing lands of adventure, but, possibly, they provided solace during the many illnesses that plagued her childhood.

In this family of educators one can almost imagine the stimulating conversations, probing questions, and challenging responses between Theodore, Grace, and resident and visiting philosophers; and, on the sideline, young Freddy listening, learning, and developing critical and analytical thinking skills. These abilities provided a solid foundation for her future and the academic career that awaited her.

Freddy entered Bryn Mawr College in 1923, planning to major in economics and psychology, yet health problems caused her to drop the psychology major and, she discovered, economics was not compelling. She struggled to find a career that combined her love of the outdoors, of adventure, of foreign cultures, and of travel with sufficient mental challenges and excitement.

In 1927 Freddy graduated summa cum laude from BMC yet a career eluded her. Although she had won a European Fellowship, she delayed the trip at her parents’ suggestion. They had heard Franz Boas lecture about anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and thought that Freddy, too, might find him stimulating. She did and entered Columbia University in 1928 to study under him. At that time, Boas was one of the foremost influential anthropologists in America.

Boas didn’t disappoint. Slowly Freddy moved toward anthropology and, that same year, after activating the European Fellowship, joined the American School of Prehistoric Research field party, traveling widely and meeting leading anthropologists on the Continent. At Boas’ suggestion, she visited Copenhagen to view a collection of Eskimo artifacts at the Danish National Museum. There she met Therkel Mathiassen and Kaj Birket-Smith, Danish anthropologists famous for their explorations with the Fifth Thule Expedition. Meeting them changed her life.

Mathiassen was preparing an archaeological reconnaissance trip to Greenland and invited Freddy to join him. What was to last six weeks lasted six months and Freddy found her calling. She wrote in Voyage to Greenland. . . . “Unexpectedly, the trip led on to a great voyage across the North Atlantic to Arctic Greenland. But more important, it was a journey into a new life, and for me a new way of looking at the world. Having once set foot in Greenland. . . , I could not turn aside from that long journey or that vocation, even though I had to give up the man I loved.” (Freddy broke her engagement and never did marry.)

So into the male-dominated discipline of American anthropology came Freddy in 1930 and until the end of her formal field research in Alaska in 1968, she was quite often the pioneer archaeologist in a region, and certainly, the pioneer female archaeologist. As a woman, she was able to interview Native women and record their stories, a privilege seldom available to male anthropologists at that time.

In 1930 Kaj Birket-Smith, the Danish anthropologist whom she had met in Copenhagen, was to co-lead an expedition, with Freddy, to Prince William Sound yet illness prevented him from doing so at the last minute. With support from the University Museum in Philadelphia, Freddy came north without him, conducting her first independent archaeological field expedition. She was 24 years old.

It was a question and the search for its answer that brought her to Cook Inlet. At the University Museum, Philadelphia, where she worked as a curator, Freddy had seen a stone lamp and believed it to be of Eskimo-origin, not of Dena’ina Athabaskan Indian origin as believed. In the 1930s, the Dena’ina occupied most of the Cook Inlet coast, although Eskimo Alutiiq people lived in the villages of Port Graham and English Bay (today Nanwalek), near the mouth of Cook Inlet. Had an Eskimoid people preceded the Dena’ina on inlet shores? Dr. Alan Boraas, professor of anthropology, Kenai Peninsula College, Soldotna, states that Freddy was one of the first problem-oriented archaeologists.

As a student of Boas, she had learned that a holistic approach to anthropology was paramount–don’t just study the people, study their environment, their food, their transportation, their games, everything that contributes to the creation of their unique culture. And, document it well with photographs. Freddy followed his advice as evidenced in her many publications of Alaska’s peoples.

As Freddy’s skills in anthropology developed, so too did her skills in photography. Many publications are beautifully illustrated with her images. Because Freddy felt strongly that all people should be able to benefit from her Alaskan photographs, taken between 1932 and 1968, she willed them to the Alaska State Library in Juneau. Co-author Klein spent eight months with Freddy at Bryn Mawr College, compiling, chronologically organizing, labeling, and preserving, in archival materials, 4000 photographs.

From Prince William Sound Freddy traveled to Anchorage where, during the summers of 1930, 1931, and 1932, she surveyed the shores of Cook Inlet in a little gas boat, the Dime, run by Jack Fields, a Seldovian, who boated her to many archaeological sites, particularly in Kachemak Bay. Her family provided some financial support and her brother, Wallace, and mother, Grace, joined her as field assistants for several years in Kachemak Bay and Prince William Sound. Tragically, her father died unexpectedly in September 1930, as Freddy learned when returning from Alaska to Pennsylvania.

After obtaining her PhD at Columbia in 1933, Freddy returned to Bryn Mawr and for the next 40 years taught anthropology classes. From 1950-1966 she co-created and chaired the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, which became the Department of Anthropology in 1967. Mandatory retirement in 1975 ended her formal teaching career but not her passions for learning, writing, exploring. Her zest for life persisted throughout her 98 years.

World War II refocused Freddy’s life temporarily. In 1942 she joined the military, hoping for an overseas appointment. Disappointingly, she was posted to Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C. where she worked at the Alaskan desk for a while. At war’s end, as a lieutenant commander, she left the service yet retained an active interest in naval history.

After the brief hiatus in the Navy, Freddy returned to Bryn Mawr College and teaching. She taught during the academic year and, as often as possible, spent summers in the field. Her professional field work in Alaska, albeit sporadic, spanned 1930 to 1968. While participating in field research in Arizona, she also developed a passion for Southwest peoples and their cultures.

After mandatory retirement from BMC in 1975, Freddy continued learning and teaching through her writings and her lectures. When traveling, she often sought knowledge of the indigenous peoples of her destination. Her travels brought her back to Yukon Island in Kachemak Bay 48 years after her initial visit and to Greenland and Denmark 50 years after her initial visits there. When interviewed by co-author Klein in 1992, Dr. William Workman, then professor of anthropology, University of Alaska Anchorage, said, “Without question, she is one of the most distinguished living North American anthropologists.

Although her passion for the arctic lured her away from Bryn Mawr, she resided there from shortly after her birth in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1906. When an apartment became available in Haverford, near Bryn Mawr, Freddy moved in and resided there until her death on October 4, 2004, the day after her 98th birthday. She died in her sleep at home in her apartment. Before she went to bed, she told her friend and fellow anthropologist, Dr. Marie-Francoise Guedon, that she wanted to write a book about the many animals she knew and loved.

Freddy was a member of several environmental organizations and practiced basic conservation in her life, such as carrying groceries in canvas tote bags long before such bags were in vogue. When 89 years old, she was still swimming numerous times a week and ate three full meals a day, preferably one as a picnic, if nothing more than sitting on a bench outside of the anthropology building on campus, enjoying sunshine, bird song, and company.

Freddy’s life-long passion and fascination with northern peoples never diminished. She was compelled to convert her abundant field notes and photographs into publications, to preserve the stories of the cultures she had studied. To that end, before her death Freddy created a scholarly press, Frederica de Laguna Northern Books. Marie-Francoise Guedon, fellow anthropologist, former field collaborator, and executor of her estate, was tasked with maintaining the press and issuing books, when possible. The first release after Freddy’s death was a new edition of her three volume masterpiece, Under Mount Saint Elias: the History and Culture of the Yakutat Tlingit, long out-of-print. The next publication, which Freddy and Marie-Francoise were writing at the time of her death, was to be about the Ahtna people of Copper Center.

The awards and honors bestowed upon Freddy are too many to recount. Most meaningful to her were those from the Native Alaskans with whom she had worked. During her studies in Yakutat in 1949 and the early 1950s, she was invited and greatly honored to share the Tlingit name of Mrs. Katy Dixon Isaac: Kuxanguwutan. Like her father, Freddy had an innate talent for languages and in 1952, she tape recorded songs of the Yakutat people, inadvertently stimulating renewed interest and pride in Tlingit music. When she returned to Yakutat in 1954, she composed a song for the people in their language. It was remembered and sung at a potlatch 32 years later which Freddy attended as a revered elder and guest. She was also recognized as one “who had written a big book about Yakutat.”

Awards from her colleagues were also important. She served many positions, including that of president, with the American Anthropological Association, was one of the first Fellows of the Arctic Institute of North America, and was selected in 1975 to be one of the first female inductees into the National Academy of Sciences, along with Margaret Meade.

Her active inquiring mind, developed and nurtured in an academic environment with strong family support, appears to have sustained this vital woman who contributed so very much to the world of anthropology, most especially, to Alaskan anthropology. Two years after her passing, the distinguished international scholarly journal, ARCTIC ANTHROPOLOGY, honored Freddy’s life-long achievements in northern environments with an issue devoted solely to her. Even after death, Freddy’s legacy lives on. Like her parents, she willed her remains to science.

Select Publications:

Each of Freddy’s major explorations in Alaska resulted in a book or in the writing of the preliminary papers that, eventually, would result in a book. By 1989 Freddy had published more than 100 papers and book reviews. The following publications provide a rough timeline of her travels and archaeological or ethnological field research in Alaska.

Expedition: summers 1930-1932, explorations briefly in Prince William Sound and then throughout coastal Cook Inlet, most especially Kachemak Bay where she discovered, described, and named the Kachemak Culture, today the Kachemak tradition.

De Laguna, Frederica

1934       The Archaeology of Cook Inlet, Alaska. University of Pennsylvania Press for the University Museum.

1975       Reprinted by Alaska Historical Society, Anchorage. 

1930 exploration of Prince William Sound with her brother, Wallace. 1933 with Danish anthropologist, Kaj Birket-Smith.

Birket-Smith, Kaj and de Laguna, Frederica

1956       Chugach Prehistory, The Archaeology of Prince William Sound, Alaska.

Birket-Smith, Kaj and de Laguna, Frederica

1938       The Eyak Indians of the Copper River Delta, Alaska

Expedition: built boats near Nenana and ran the middle Yukon River in 1935.

De Laguna, Frederica

1947       The Prehistory of Northern North America As Seen from the Yukon.

Expedition: worked with the Yakutat Tlingit in 1949, 1950, 1952, 1954 often joined by Catharine McClellan.

1972       Under Mount Saint Elias: The History and Culture of the Yakutat Tlingit. 3 volumes.

Expedition: 1954, 1958, 1960. Studies of the Copper River Ahtna with Catharine McClellan.

De Laguna, Frederica and Catharine McClellan

1981       ”Ahtna,” Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 6, Subarctic.

Emmons, George Thorton. De Laguna editor and contributor

1991       The Tlingit Indians.


ARCTIC ANTHROPOLOGY, Vol. 43, No. 2. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, c2006. NOTES: compilation of articles dedicated to Frederica de Laguna.

De Laguna, Frederica. Voyage to Greenland: A Personal Initiation into Anthropology. 1977. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc.

Klein, Janet R., compiler. Frederica de Laguna, A Summary of Her Life and Her Work. For the Alaska Humanities Forum, Anchorage. Unpublished. NOTES: timelines of her personal and her professional life; biographical sketches; select bibliography; photographs.


Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/ZYEiLa3i7-E

Photo of Mary Laurie (Espinosa) Epperson

Mary Laurie (Espinosa) Epperson

Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Community Arts, Education

Mary Epperson inspired and built the arts community in Homer, Alaska and the southern Kenai Peninsula. She was also a most influential piano teacher who for approximately sixty years gave piano lessons to children and adults. Students learned to play the piano and to love music and were mentored to bring out all their abilities. While influencing through private lessons, Epperson’s actions in the public sphere created Homer’s vibrant arts community for all citizens. She founded the Homer Council on the Arts; was a funding trustee of the Homer Community Foundation; helped start the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra; created a drop-in “arts community center” in her music studio; and supported and encouraged other arts organizations including the Pier One Theatre, Inlet Winds and Homer Youth String Orchestra Club.

Epperson was deeply interested in lifetime learning opportunities, serving on the Campus Advisory Board of the Kachemak Bay Campus, Kenai Peninsula College, for thirty years, many as chair. She campaigned extensively for campus facilities to be located in Homer and lobbied for many of the certificate, degree programs and services now offered. The UoA. Board of Regents 2011 Meritorious Service Award summarized her successful efforts: “ …demonstrated profound, unwavering commitment to developing our local campus of the University of Alaska”.

She demonstrated what one individual, with energy, vision and passion, can achieve in building a community’s institutions. Her many honors include: Homer’s Citizen of the Year, 2004; the Governor’s Award for the Arts, 1988; Mayor and City Council Proclamation declaring June 6th as “Mary Epperson Day” and the Mary Epperson Campus Support and Scholarship Fund at Kachemak Bay Campus.

Epperson was a loving, modest, humble and generous woman whose profound personal and community influence shaped Homer, its institutions and its people.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/osriR69zHLg

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Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Community Arts, Education

Mary Epperson was considered to be the “creative center of Homer,” Alaska. She loved music, the arts and life-long learning and had a passion to share this love with others. She was the inspiration for, and the architect of the arts community of Homer and the southern Kenai Peninsula. Perhaps most widely known as an outstanding piano teacher, she gave private lessons to generations of children, and adults, over a sixty-year teaching career. In the 1980’s Epperson inspired and created the key institutions for the arts community to grow and to flourish. And perhaps her proudest achievement was that after years of dedicated advocacy she successfully convinced the University of Alaska to establish Kachemak Bay Campus as a “real” college in Homer with facilities and programs. Epperson’s influence was summarized by one observer as “…the ripple effects from her life will continue to shape our community for decades if not centuries…”(1)

Not much is known about Epperson’s early life. She and a sister were born of Mexican immigrant parents in Los Angles, CA. After completing high school she worked as a bookkeeper and during the early WW II years she worked in a factory where she met Jack Epperson, the man she married in 1942. Jack decided the family should move to Alaska which they did with their two children, Terry and Dean, in 1954.

We do know of one major influence in her early years: her father loved music and filled the house with sound. They listened to the radio together and at a very early age he observed that she could “play by ear”, having the ability to pick out the notes on a piano of a tune she heard him whistle or heard on the radio. Recognizing that she had this talent, he insisted that she be given piano lessons, starting at an early age. Her daughter Terry, has commented that once her mother was introduced to the piano, playing and later teaching others to play became Epperson’s life-long passion and love.

The early years in Alaska were difficult. They first filed for a homestead in Happy Valley, located between Ninilchik and Anchor Point, living in a one-room cabin without running water, electricity, indoor plumbing or a piano which had been left in Los Angeles. Also, it was a two-mile walk to the road where her daughter could catch the school bus. Deciding that it would be too difficult to spend another winter in that cabin they filed for a new homesite in Ninilchik, choosing a site opposite the school. Again, the cabin Jack built lacked running water and indoor plumbing, but it did have electricity and the school had a piano. Epperson immediately started giving piano lessons at the school and at pupils’ homes. She also became a substitute teacher and taught singing and gave accordion and guitar lessons. They next homesteaded at a site outside of Anchor Point, now known as Epperson Knob, where Jack built their cabin and started a cattle ranch. While this cabin was larger, there was no road to it. This required Epperson to travel to her pupils’ houses for their piano lessons. Finally, they decided they needed to find “real” jobs to earn money and moved to Homer.

Epperson served as treasurer/clerk of the City of Homer for eighteen years. She retired in 1981 and devoted full time to teaching piano, volunteering and advancing the arts and education. She acquired a small building in the downtown area, fixed it up to be her music studio and named it Etude Studio. It quickly became the cultural hub of Homer where people could “hang out”, find tickets, learn what was happening in the arts and, of course, take music lessons. A newcomer to the Etude Studio would immediately be quizzed by Epperson to ascertain what musical instruments he or she played in the hopes of recruiting new talent for the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra.

Her community activism in the arts started In the 1980’s when she founded the Homer Council on the Arts, serving on its board of directors as president and treasurer for many years. Epperson founded and organized the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra, serving as president of the board and for thirty years was its bookkeeper. In 1991, she was one of the primary founding trustees of the Homer Community Foundation. She supported other art organizations as well, including the community band, Inlet Winds, and the Homer Youth String Orchestra Club. She sold tickets every summer in support of the Pier One theatre productions.

In addition to her love of the arts, Epperson was deeply interested in opportunities for securing life-long learning opportunities and higher education. She believed in learning for learning’s sake. Her daughter observed that once she learned something Epperson felt compelled to share it with others. She served on the Campus Advisory Board of he Kachemak Bay Campus of Kenai Peninsula College, University of Alaska, for thirty years, many as chair. She campaigned extensively and with dedication for “real” college campus facilities to be located in Homer and lobbied for many of the certificate and degree programs and services now offered to students and the community. In 2011 the Board of Regents of the University of Alaska recognized Epperson’s dedicated and successful effort in championing the college and awarded her the Meritorious Service Award. The citation read in part “demonstrated profound, unwavering commitment to developing our local campus of the University of Alaska”. At the awards ceremony, KBC Director Carol Swartz declared: “While she may be small in stature, she has been a giant when it comes to making the needs of KBC known.” (2)

Epperson received many honors for her lasting contributions which helped build and promote Homer’s arts and educational institutions. She received the Governor’s Award for the Arts, 1988; was declared Homer’s Citizen of the Year, 2004; Homer’s Mayor and City Council issued a Proclamation in 2010, declaring June 6th, Mary’s birthday, as “Mary Epperson Day” and this municipal proclamation has been reissued multiple times. In her honor, the Campus Advisory Board created the “Mary Epperson Campus Support and Scholarship Fund”. This endowed fund was successfully funded and awarded its first three scholarships in 2017.

What were the personality traits, leadership and teaching skills this remarkable woman possessed to enable a former homesteader and music lover to make such lasting impacts on her community and so many individuals ? First off, she loved people and in turn people loved her, sensing a genuine concern. Epperson was very proud of her students and respected everyone’s contributions. She was generous, kind, very humble, modest and did not need, and did not take, credit for her accomplishments. She was determined, would follow through and knew how to connect and collaborate with others. As an intuitive person, she was always able to find, and convince, an appropriate person to do something. When that certain something was completed she would say: “I was just the pusher”. (3)

She was a natural teacher, using patience and praise, and knowing when and how to give extra attention to a young person when needed, whether pertaining to life or a music lesson. As one former student commented: “Her sessions were not dry drills or lesson but infusions of self esteem”.(4) In the book entitled “The Talent Code: Greatness is Not Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How”, author Daniel Coyle, declared Mary Epperson to be a “master teacher”.

In summarizing Mary’s enormous personal and community influence, Shannyn Moore, a well-known commentator and radio host from the area, stated: “I can’t image Homer or myself without her guidance.” (5)

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/osriR69zHLg


Cline, Dorthy Roberts. Mary’s Gift Alaska’s Remarkable Mary Epperson.

Glen Erin Press, 2016.

Coyle, Daniel. The Talent Code: Greatness is Not Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. Bantam, 2009.

Tony Lewis and Clark Fair. Keeping the Fire Burning; 50-Year History of Kenai Peninsula College (2)

Personal Conversations with Dean Epperson and Terry Harrington, February, 2018.

Homer News, http://www.homenews.com:

Local News, April 14, 2016, Michael Armstrong, “Homer’s ‘creative  heart’ dies”.

Homer Town Crier, Obituary, April 21, 2016.

Alaska Dispatch News, http://www.adn.com:

Carey Restino, April 15, 2016, “Devotion, Passion for Life made  Epperson a mentor”, commentary first printed in the Arctic Sounder.


Mike Dunham, April 15, 2016, “Coda: Mary Epperson”. (4)

Shannyn Moore, April 17, 2016, “Homer and Alaska lose one of their  best in beloved inspiration Mary Epperson”. (5)

Photo of Alice Stevenson Green

Alice Stevenson Green

Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Advocacy, Education, Religion

Alice Stevenson Green was an educator, one of Alaska’s first female Presbyterian religious leaders, and one of Alaska’s leading social justice advocates. While women born during her time were limited in the roles they could hold in the church, Green pursued opportunities throughout her life that allowed her to shatter glass ceilings. Green obtained multiple college degrees and taught school in Colorado before moving to Alaska. Green sought assignments within the Presbyterian Church that allowed her to positively influence the policies of the church. In 1945, Green became a Commissioned Church worker, the only Presbyterian Church position available for a single woman in Alaska.

After arriving in Alaska, Green quickly fell in love with the state and the people and joined the ranks of leadership in the Presbyterian community where she advocated for social justice and peace. In 1972, Green became the first women to be ordained as a female Presbyterian minister in Alaska. Green became the first female moderator for the Synod of Alaska-Northwest. Green served as the Chairperson of the Mission Strategy Committee for the Presbytery, helped form the Anchorage chapter of Church Women United, and played an integral part in founding the Anchor Presbyterian Church. Green’s involvement in the Nome Presbyterian Church, the churches on St. Lawrence Island and the Anchor Christian Ministries did much to advance the role of women, minorities and Alaska Natives in the church and in Alaska.

After retiring, Green continued to serve in volunteer roles of both the Korean and Alaska Native Presbyterian Congregations in Anchorage. Green was elected to positions in the National General Assembly and served as Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of the Yukon.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/n7dBYZUKjHg

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Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Advocacy, Education, Religion

Miracles and early life:

On July 21, 2017, for Green’s 100th birthday, the communities of Anchorage and Savoonga came together to honor her. The celebration recognized Green, who served as a religious leader, social advocate, gifted educator, courageous pioneer, and world traveler. The Municipality of Anchorage and the City of Savoonga both proclaimed Green’s 100th Birthday, “Alice Green Day”. The City of Savoonga sent the Mayor to Anchorage to attend Green’s Birthday Party. In honor of her birthday, Reverend Karns reported that Green was made an honoree moderator for the annual Yukon Presbytery meeting in October 2017.

Green, who was named after her mother, was born on July 21, 1917, in Scott City, Kansas. Green’s mother died giving birth. Green was born two months early with club feet and only weighing four pounds. Her family had difficulty finding formula she could eat and Green was not expected to live. Green’s Aunt Frances, a nurse, cared for her during her first year of life and subsequently married her father, thereby becoming her stepmother. During Green’s first year of life, while living in Scott City, Green developed whooping cough and pneumonia and had her club feet repaired in Kansas City, Missouri. Despite her battles, Green tripled her weight quickly and her stepmother is credited with saving Green’s life.

Green had two aunts she loved dearly. They were her Aunt Lottie and Aunt Frances (also Green’s stepmother). Both worked at Sheldon Jackson School between the years of 1914 and 1917. Green recalls their stories about Alaska which ignited her desire to come to Alaska.

Green had six siblings, two born with cerebral palsy. Green helped care for them before leaving home and it helped shape the person she is today.

Getting an education and Green’s impact on the church:

Green grew up with little money and a big family. A friend named Mr. Boggs who had been a member of her family church paid for Green to go to college and seminary. He knew Green had intended to go to college in Parkville, Missouri, which cost a mere $250 at the time including room and board for that price. When Mr. Boggs saw Green sitting at church after local college classes had already started, he asked her why she wasn’t at college. Green admitted to Mr. Boggs that her family lacked the funds to pay for her attendance. The family friend immediately paid for college for Green. Women at the time could not become ministers but they could be missionaries, so Green signed up and became a missionary.

Green earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education from Park College (now Park University), near Kansas City, MO in 1939. Green had hoped to teach history at Sheldon Jackson School, but the plan fell through because Sheldon Jackson wasn’t looking for history teachers at the time. After obtaining her history degree in Secondary Education, Green taught 7th and 8th grade in Marble, Colorado, where quarries, owned by a company in Vermont, mined the stone for statutes, notably the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Lincoln Memorial, and sent it to Washington, DC. When the Republicans came into power under Eisenhower, marble was no longer obtained through the Vermont (Democrat) company, so the mine closed and Green was out of a job. That same year a gold mine reopened in Dunton, Colorado creating a need for a school teacher, so Green moved to teach grades 1-8. While Green was on summer vacation after her first year, the mine collapsed on a “change Sunday” (a day when no one worked). Alice was again unemployed. Green headed to graduate school.

In 1943, Green obtained her Master’s Degree in Christian Education from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. Shortly after, Green took her first assignment with the church in Maine, becoming a Sunday School Missionary. Then Green moved to Savoonga, Alaska in 1945. Green arrived by steamship, the SS Aleutian, in Seward, Alaska, and from there, she took a train to Anchorage, a plane to Nome, a U.S. Navy PBY to Gambell, and finally Green took a whaling ship into Savoonga, where she arrived on July 5, 1945. Aside from a one year furlough, Green stayed in Savoonga until 1955. Furloughs afforded Green the opportunity to share her missions’ efforts in remote locations, something she reportedly loved doing. Green described the remoteness of Savoonga but it didn’t stop her from loving the community and its people. She quickly made Savoonga home.

Green was the first woman Moderator of the Synod of Alaska-Northwest, a region that includes Alaska, Washington and Northern Idaho. The Synod, an advisory council, enabled Green to practice her skills and provide guidance and advice to leadership within the region. She reported what she enjoyed most about this position was moderating the yearly meetings, travel and interacting with representatives from throughout the Synod’s region.

Friendships along the way:

Green’s mentor in life was her pastor from junior high and high school named Reverend George Henry Green (a man who had the same name as her father and brother), also known as “G”. Henry Green. Green reported that Reverend G. Henry Green motivated her because “he was a loving Christian man who was particularly good with the youth.” Green reported that he helped shape her into the person she would become. She was the only woman in her group that went into the ministry. The other seven were men.

In July, 1945, when traveling to Savoonga, Green met her dear friend, Norma Hoyt, who was traveling from Seattle to Anchorage via the same steamboat out of Seward as Green. Green reported that she had planned to stay with a local minister, however, he was out of town when she arrived. Norma Hoyt invited Green to stay with her until the local minister returned to town, thus forging a 44 year friendship.

From 1945 to 1988, Alice Green reported that she often traveled for leisure and vacation, managing to go to six continents with her friend, Norma Hoyt. Green reports going around the world with her friend, traveling to Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Belgrade, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Denmark, Switzerland, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Iran, Jordan to Syria, and later Antarctica. Green and her friend Norma Hoyt were scheduled to go to Iraq, however, they cancelled the trip due to a cholera outbreak. Going to Iraq would have prevented them from traveling to some of the other destinations on their list of places to see because of concern about the spread of the disease. Green reported that Hungary offered the best food, wholesome and homemade, but Nepal was her favorite destination because they offered active programs for travelers. She enjoyed visiting the many clinics in the countryside in Nepal just outside Katmandu. Green claims she took that trip so that she could see the people of remote locations, comparing it to Savoonga which was also remote.

Green’s life in remote Alaska and its impact on the people:

Restricted by practice limitations of the church, Green served as a Presbyterian missionary from 1945 to 1954 in one of the most remote Alaskan villages, Savoonga on St. Lawrence Island, an island about the size of Connecticut in the Bering Sea approximately 50 miles from Siberia. When Green arrived in Savoonga, she moved into a tiny home that was a mere 15 x 16 feet in size. It was too small to hold her trunk, so she stored her trunk in the attic at the local school. At the time there was no church so she held services at the local school until the school burned down in 1946, when services were held in homes. Shortly after arriving in Savoonga, Green helped the community manage the construction of a church using volunteer labor. The “new” church was dedicated on Easter Sunday, 1950. The church is still there and in use after over 70 years. When Green is asked about her role in the construction, she quickly gives all credit to the local people of Savoonga, downplaying her role in the effort.

While missionaries often left negative impact on villages because of forced assimilation, Jenny Alowa reports Green wasn’t like that. She always had her services and hymns translated into Siberian Yupik for the local residents. She made people comfortable; she loved the people of Savoonga and they knew that. The key to her success while living there was ensuring she treated people with respect. When asked if it was hard living in Savoonga, away from all of the luxuries of the big cities, Green said: “Not at all. She loved the place and all of the people there. She never missed the city, and since she traveled, she was able to see amazing people and go amazing places while doing her work.”

Green was employed by the National Council of Churches and worked as a religious coordinator for the Alaska Native Service (ANS) at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage from 1955 until 1970. At that time ANS was treating tuberculosis (TB) patients. While working there Green met top Alaska Native artists, including George Ahgupuk and Robert Mayokok. Green pointed out that many of them had contracted TB carving ivory and had been institutionalized for treatment.

In the 1960’s many issues consumed congregations in Anchorage including space, locale, escalating costs and a need to sustain congregations into the long term future. Land was becoming expensive. As chairman of the Presbytery’s Committee on Mission Strategy, Green was instrumental in facilitating changes that included moving Faith Church and combining it with Woodland Park to become Trinity Presbyterian Church in Spenard. Faith Church had a mission outreach program in the Nunaka Valley area that originally operated out of homes, but eventually became Immanuel Presbyterian Church. The Korean Church moved into the Spenard space when Trinity bought property on Huffman Road so there was a south side Presbyterian presence. These changes drove down costs and allowed the churches to benefit from shared administrative duties.

From 1965 to 1972 Green attended national meetings twice a year for the Presbyterian Church, voting on budgets and opening or closing new church sites across the country.

In 1971, Green accepted an interim pastor position in Ketchikan where she served for a year. In 1972, when the rules changed to allow women to be ordained, the Savoonga church (following church protocol) called Green to be their pastor. Green became the first woman ordained in Alaska as a Presbyterian minister. After being ordained, Green returned to Savoonga and served from 1972 to 1982. In 1982, Green was required to retire from service with the Presbyterian Church because she reached age 65.

During the 1980’s while Green worked at ANS, she became involved in the work of the Presbytery. Green was elected by the National General Assembly to serve on the Board of National Missions of the Presbyterian Church USA where she served for seven years and was elected Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of the Yukon (1982-1991). Green helped establish the Anchorage chapter of Church Women United, a national ecumenical Christian women’s group that brings diverse cultures together for fellowship and prayer advocating for peace and justice worldwide. Green also served in a leadership role with both the Korean and Alaska Native Presbyterian Congregations at Anchor Presbyterian Church. She traveled to meetings and conferences throughout the Lower 48, took minutes for the local churches and continued to remain active in the church as a volunteer after her forced retirement.

Reverend Kurt Karns, explained what it means for Green to have been the Moderator of the Synod. The Presbyterian Church is broken down by regions and Green’s leadership roles allowed her to influence the regions from Anchorage to the North Slope, including having a say in providing pastors across the Presbytery. Green used her roles to help Presbyterian women advocate for peace and justice, ensuring that across the state women’s issues were always at the forefront. Her involvement in three churches: the Nome Presbyterian Church, the church on St. Lawrence Island and Anchor Christian Ministries significantly advanced the role of women and Alaska Natives in the church. Reverend Karns contributes much of Green’s success to her ability to network with others. He described Green as “knowing everyone”. Reverend Karns pointed out that Green’s ordination in Alaska was a controversial topic for the time.

Green often attended and traveled to other churches. Green helped organize the Jewell Lake Parish, a joint venture between Methodists and Presbyterians. Green was intent on trying to make better sense of the church’s mission by joining forces and streamlining reporting functions for the various churches. Green’s longtime friend (since 1982), Viola Markson, describes Green as a unique person who is a wonderful minister. She explains that Green ministers to all people and that there is never a wrong thing to say. According to Ms. Markson, Green is not critical, but she is stubborn.

While serving in Anchorage, Green also performed weddings, often for the people from St. Lawrence Island. As a ruling elder, Alice served at every judicial level of the church. Her knowledge of the people helped others better meet the needs of culturally diverse congregations.

Green played an active role in the Anchorage Chapter of Church Women United. Green reports that this Christian women’s movement makes the world better for all women and children. The mission helped bring diverse cultures and races together for fellowship and prayer advocacy for peace and justice worldwide. Locally, Green focused on serving both the Korean and Alaska Native Communities. When asked what drove her to advocate for these two particular groups, she noted many Alaska Natives were moving to Anchorage from the villages. She replied, “I felt we needed to be responsible to the people.”

Green’s advice to anyone who doubts the existence of God, is “there is no reason to doubt God. There has to be someone bigger than ourselves to help things move along the way they should.” Green pointed out that “she can’t see how things came into existence without a higher power: Allah, God, whatever that might be.”

Green’s personal life:

Green and her friend Norma Hoyt took their final trip together in 1988, when they went to Antarctica, just months before her friend died. Green always stopped at hospitals and mission stations along the way. Green and Hoyt drove across the country visiting old book stores, buying rare/out of print books on Alaska. She collected Alaskan books exclusively and had an amazing collection which she eventually sold and donated to local libraries and museums. Much of her collection can be found in the Nome library.

Green taught Bible study at Trinity Presbyterian in Anchorage until 2016, when she turned 98 and her vision started to fail her.

When asked if she made any mistakes along the way in life, Green said, “I made many, but what I learned is that I needed to find out what motivates people and to remember others may think differently but it doesn’t make them wrong.”

When asked what advice she would offer young women about how to accomplish their goals, Green quickly pointed out that “women should not give up and they should do what they want to do in life. Her advice is to get the education that you need to follow your dreams and just do it.”

Green stated that she got up every day to do the work she did “because it was her calling, it was what she was supposed to do!” She never detoured from her work and said she never wanted to change course. When given options to leave for assignments in the Lower 48, she chose to go to Anchorage instead because that was the only other available option and she didn’t want to leave Alaska and the people she loved.

Green reported that she often found herself outside of her comfort zone when dealing with family difficulties; she didn’t want to pick sides. She listened to both sides of every story and often stayed as neutral as she could, although she did occasionally have to pick sides and provide advice over issues. When needing to do so, she sought wisdom through prayer.

When asked about meeting the glass ceiling, Green pointed out that when she arrived in Savoonga there was no formal building for people to meet, but the community was organized. She fought for women’s rights and it worked. She became very much a part of the community and the community became a part of her.

For fun, Green plays double deck pinochle with friends on Sunday afternoons, she attends Bible studies on Wednesdays, since her eyesight has started to fail she is now an avid audio book reader and she likes to take walks. She loves reading non-fiction and is currently listening to a book on tape of a biography about the 2nd George Bush. She also reports listening to the 2nd book in a 4 volume set about Abraham Lincoln titled “The War Years” which was written by Carl Sandburg. Green reports her favorite book of all time is the Bible. Her favorite verse is a most famous bible verse, John 3:16. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV) Green likes watching football, baseball, the nightly news and Jeopardy on television.

It is fitting that Green is being honored for her achievements, social rights activism, religious and educational leadership and long dedication to Alaska and the Presbyterian Church.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/n7dBYZUKjHg


Green, Alice. (2018) Personal conversations.

Combs, Carol. Friend and teacher from Savoonga (2018) Personal conversations and written communication.

Alowa, Jenny. Life long-friend who grew up in Savoonga. Green was her pastor (2018). Personal conversations and written communication.

Karns, Rev Kurt. Executive Presbyter for the Yukon Presbytery. (2018) Personal conversations.

Markson, Viola. Friend and Bible Study peer. (2018) Personal conversations.

Alaska Dispatch News. (June 22, 2017) “72 years later, a missionary remains part of the village she went to serve”.

Green is one of the Pioneers in the book: We Alaskans, Stories of people who helped build the

Great Land, Volume II, compiled and edited by Sharon Bushell.

Photo of Lorrie Louise (Angelo) Horning

Lorrie Louise (Angelo) Horning

Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Community Arts, Community Service

Lorrie Horning is best known as the founder of Alaska Junior Theater (1981) which was just one year after she and her family, two young boys and husband, moved to Anchorage. AJT was a grassroots effort started at Horning’s kitchen table, and three years later was recognized with an award by the Children’s Theater of America. It continues to thrive serving an audience of nearly a million parents and students over time.

Born and raised in Vancouver, Washington, the oldest of four children she married (1965) Morris Horning, who she had known since they were 10-year old neighbors. Her education consists of a BA, Education, l964, Marylhurst University, Portland and a Masters, Education, 1984, Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage. She began her teaching career in Bellevue, Washington.

Horning has created other, non-theater related entities. While serving as Anchorage Medical Auxiliary President, she developed and organized an infant car seat loaner program, PECABU (Protect Every Child And Buckle Up) (1984). This program operated out of Providence Hospital and Alaska Humana Hospital, making infant seat restraints readily and inexpensively available to newborns.

Horning developed the program The Wish List, a 40-page booklet containing the wishes and specific needs of over 70 Anchorage non-profit organizations. It continued to be published for 13 years. She received the Anchorage Association of Volunteer Administrators Volunteer Award for this project. The Wish List was recognized by the National American Medical Association Alliance.

The awards she has received are many and include: Alaska Women of Achievement,1990; Distinguished Volunteer Award, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Pacific NW Division,1984; Alaska First Lady Volunteer Awards, 1982-84 &1985.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/SMpVtbgTHUM

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Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Community Arts, Community Service

Lorrie Horning is best known as the founder of Alaska Junior Theater (1981), a private, non-profit organization presenting professional theater arts from around the word to young audiences and families in Anchorage and around the state. It was started at Horning’s kitchen table as a grassroots effort and three years later was recognized with an award by the Children’s Theater of America. It continues to thrive serving an audience of nearly a million parents and students over time.

The Horning family lived in Seattle for about ten years and during that time participated in the Seattle Junior Programs, one of them a theater program that the entire family could attend and enjoy. Horning served on the board for two years and is where the Alaska Junior Theater idea came from.

Born and raised in Vancouver, Washington, the oldest of four children. She and her future husband attended St. Joseph elementary school. Then, she went on to attend Providence Academy in Vancouver, a Catholic girls high school where she was the Sodality President. She continued her leadership at Marylhurst University in Oregon serving first as the student body treasurer and then student body president. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1964 and some twenty years later received a Master’s of Arts in Education from Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage. She taught elementary education in Bellevue, Washington (1964-67) and again (1969-71) in Seattle, Washington.

Many people talk about marrying their high school sweetheart. Lorrie and Morris Horning’s story has a much longer time frame. They have known one another since they were 10-year-old neighbors, attended the same elementary school but did separate after the eight grade. Each attending their own boys and girls’ Catholic high schools. They went to separate colleges and married each other (June 26, 1965) a year after graduating. They have two children, Kevin, born in New York City, 1967, while Morris completed a medical internship at Montefiore Hospital and Shawn was born (1971) in San Francisco while his father served in the U.S. Army.

While living in Seattle, a medical school friend of Morris’s offered a practice position in Anchorage, saying there was plenty of opportunity and a great place to raise their children. They decided they would have another adventure and planned to stay for two years.

Before coming from Seattle to Alaska in1980 they went on a year’s sabbatical traveling and living in Europe. The adventure took them and their sons to 13 countries with a four-month residence in Wales. Several of the months included the parents of both Lorrie and Morris traveling with them, all eight in two camper vans. During this time the boys were home schooled with a brief time attending school in Wales.

After arriving in Anchorage, Horning missed the presentation of theater arts for children, so she and five friends who were also parents formed the Alaska Junior Theater. They wanted to provide an atmosphere for stimulating and nurturing children’s creativity and imagination and to provide entertainment, fun, laughter, empathy, wonder, the formation of new attitudes and the development of future adult audiences. During the first five years, continuing to operate from her kitchen, Horning served as executive director/president, and the board volunteered for everything from fund raising to contacting and scheduling teachers for school time shows to counting out the 10,000 flyers that Alyeska Pipeline printed for free into bundles and delivering them to schools to be sent home with the students and much more. She and her husband continue to serve as fund raisers, consultants, and at times help with the school time performances.

Horning has created other, non-theater related entities as well. While serving as Anchorage Medical Auxiliary President, she developed and organized an infant car seat loaner program, PECABU (Protect Every Child And Buckle Up) (1984). This program operated out of Providence Hospital and Alaska Humana Hospital, making infant seat restraints readily and inexpensively available for newborns to new parents, military parents, those new to Anchorage as well as new grandparents with visiting grandchildren. The program was awarded first place by The National Safety Council, Child Safety Division six months after it started. It also received commendations from Mayor Tony Knowles and US Senator Ted Stevens and the Alaska Highway Safety Planning Agency. Horning received an award from the US Health and Human Services, NW Division for her work in developing the program and for her leadership with the Child Passenger Safety Law Task Force. In Alaska Medicine magazine, Volume 26, 1984, page 77, published an article written by Horning entitled “Infant Seats Can Save Lives Buckle Up Save a Life.”

Another program Horning developed was The Wish List 1989, a 40-page booklet containing the wishes and specific needs of over 70 Anchorage non-profit organizations. The Anchorage Daily News printed each organizations’ list. It continued to be published for 13 years. She received the Anchorage Association of Volunteer Administrators Volunteer Award for this project. The Wish List was recognized by the National American Medical Association Alliance.

During a time long before cell phones, Horning created a Student Emergency Wallet Card in 1993, listing emergency and call for help numbers. Working with the Anchorage School District the cards were distributed to 11 junior and senior high schools in Anchorage.

Horning has spread her community activities across many organizations including serving as treasurer of Lake Otis Elementary School; member of the boards of directors of Anchorage Community Schools and Catholic Social Services; member of the Municipality of Anchorage Arts Advisory Commission; treasurer for Saturday Night in the Stacks, Friends of the Library; President, Anchorage Medical Auxiliary and Alliance (five years); President, Alaska State Medical Auxiliary; member of the Clare House Advisory Board and newsletter editor. She and her husband have been volunteers and team leaders on 13 trips building and teaching English with Habitat for Humanity, Global Volunteers and Global Citizen’s Network to Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Georgia, New Mexico, Vietnam, Mexico, Cook Islands, Italy, Ireland, including another team in Mexico building homes with Jimmy Carter. They also enjoyed meeting the Carters in Plains, Georgia.

The awards she has received are many and include: Alaska First Lady Volunteer Awards, (1982-84 and1985); Distinguished Volunteer Award, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Pacific NW Division, (1984); Clare House Newsletter Editor Award of Excellence from Public Relations Society of America (1992); Alaska Women of Achievement (1990); Anchorage Association for Volunteer Administrators Community Service Award for The Wish List book (1992); and with her husband, Hospice, Heroes of Healthcare National/Global Community Service Award (2003).

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/SMpVtbgTHUM

Photo of Mary Lou (Neville) King

Mary Lou (Neville) King

Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Advocacy, Environmental Activism, Writing

For more than fifty years, Mary Lou King has followed her love of nature, education, and her community to benefit those around her. She is known for opening the natural world of Juneau to countless generations of Juneau residents and tourists through her trails work and publications. King is a tireless conservationist whose advocacy made a difference in the preservation of and public access to Southeast Alaska. Finally, she is an educator who helped to establish Sea Week in Juneau and supported it to becoming the field experience for three generations of Juneau students in every grade and classroom in the elementary schools, then guided the expansion of Sea Week to a statewide program for the State of Alaska.

King is one of those rare individuals who have the vision and clarity to know what is needed by a community and the determination and energy to carry that through to fruition. In the early 1980s, she worked with the City Planning Department and identified the public access points to beaches, establishing trails and signage at beach access spots throughout the Borough. King led multiple Juneau conservation societies and published the definitive Juneau trail guide, 90 Short Walks Around Juneau, first printed in 1987 and now in its fourth printing. Mary Lou’s conservation work has had national impact and recognition. In the 1970s she worked with the Taku Conservation Society and the Friends of Admiralty to protect Admiralty Island. She was an advocate for countering a plan that would have resulted in a sale of timber of much of the island, which is now a national treasure.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/NU81p2AdOF8

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Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Advocacy, Environmental Activism, Writing

Mary Lou King was born in Oregon in 1929 on a small farm near Crater Lake National Park. She grew up in the woods of Southern Oregon and was conscious early on about what can be done to beautify outdoor spaces. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education at Northwest Missouri State College and taught high school for one year in Iowa and six years in Oregon. At the end of the 7th year of teaching after deciding she might be an “old maid,” forever, she moved to Alaska for an adventure in 1958. In Juneau, she worked for the Territory of Alaska’s Department of Education serving rural students through a correspondence program. Thus started her passion for bringing locally relevant education to Alaskan students. She met Jim King through friends in Juneau, married in 1961 and lived in Fort Yukon, Fairbanks and Bethel before returning to Juneau in 1964. Jim worked as a waterfowl biologist all over the state for 30 years. King believes her finest accomplishments are her children: daughters Sara and Laura, born eleven months apart in 1962, who now live in Seattle and Portland and son James, born in 1967, who lives in Juneau.

Juneau is a healthier community because of King’s work and her “90 Trails” book. Hearthside Bookstore in Juneau reports that they sell more copies of this book each year than any other single book. Packets prepared by employers in town, including Juneau’s Bartlett Hospital and the University of Alaska Southeast include 90 Short Walks Around Juneau.  King’s trail work and book have changed the habits of the people of Juneau, dog walkers, kid walkers, joggers, old people, and families. As she said herself in an interview with the Juneau Community Foundation, “If you get children outside, to recognize and learn about the environment and to appreciate it, that makes us all better caretakers of the world we live in.”

Her love of the outdoors led King through a long history of advocacy for nature and health. In the early 1970’s she helped instigate a movement to add separate bike paths to the roads in Juneau. Those legacy bike paths were established and have been expanded since then. She became active in the Juneau Audubon Society since it’s beginning in the 1970s and has been a member of the board almost continuously since then. In presenting her with the Great Egret Award in 2012, the National Audubon Society noted that, “Mary Lou King has served over the years as President, Newsletter Chair, Education Chair, Conservation Chair … and berry picker and Juneau Audubon jelly maker…” Also as an active member of the Taku Conservation Society, she was a leader in protecting public access to Juneau’s beaches as the town expanded as well as locating and identifying old mining routes and adding them and some new trails to the Juneau trails system. Her interests and advocacy are still very much present in the community.

In the early 1970s, parents in Juneau’s Auke Bay Grade School, valuing education about the local marine environment, maritime industry and history and culture, started a program called Sea Week. King jumped enthusiastically into this effort, and it was not long before she was leading it. Each winter she consulted tide books to determine when the lowest tides would occur during school hours, located beaches best for classes to be held, coordinated the transportation, and secured agency specialists who could lead the field trips. By 1980, Sea Week was mandated curriculum in Juneau School District’s elementary schools. Every class at every school went on two spring field trips, one to the beach at low tide and one to open to the public developed facilities such has the Glacier Visitor’s Center, Nation Marine Fisheries buildings, fish hatchery, museums and still do to this day.

Michael Kohan, Seafood Technical Director with Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, testified to the lasting effects that Sea Week has on the life of Juneau students: “When talking about how I became a woman in seafood and science, I refer to the unique opportunity growing up in Southeast Alaska and being immersed in the hands-on education opportunities like Sea Week. The value of the Sea Week program is not just an education on the names of intertidal species, but it is an experience. An experience that links kids to asking questions, learning, exploring and eventually, like myself, following that intrigue to a path in science. …. When talking about the connection people in Alaska have to Alaska seafood, I reference Sea Week and the unique experience elementary school kids have when growing up in Southeast Alaska!” King continued to volunteer in schools after her own children graduated, including mentoring “many, many science fair projects.”

Mary Lou’s love of history and Native culture resulted not only in learning difficult techniques of basket making in cedar bark and spruce roots, but also in Chilkat weaving techniques. She learned the correct season, soil condition and weather to go out and ‘harvest’ the spruce roots and then prepare them. Over the years she taught classes in basketry and weaving. She used these skills to contribute in many ways. After the discovery of a 700-year-old Tlingit fish trap in Juneau in 2006, she constructed a model of a trap and donated it to the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. Today this exhibit is one of the most popular hands-on exhibits in the museum and teaches children and the public about all the ways a fish trap can be made and how it catches fish.

King was the editor and contributed articles for decades to the newsletters of the Juneau Audubon Society and the Ravenstail Weavers’ Guild. She also authored numerous pamphlets for the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. According to Kay Parker, President, Ravenstail Weavers’ Guild, “Her support of the Northwest Coast Arts has founded a Northwest Coast University Art endowment at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS), where King was a substitute teacher for basketry and material collection and preparation. Jane Lindsey, Director of the Juneau-Douglas City Museum praised King’s interest in history and local settlements: “Mary Lou King has supported the Juneau-Douglas City Museum’s history and cultural interpretation for many years. As the author of the 90 Short Walks, Treadwell Mine Historic Trail Guide, and co-author of Last Chance Mining Museum & Historical Park, Mary Lou has worked diligently to encourage historic trail exploration and preservation. The Museum has carried these booklets in our gift shop for many years and they are still popular with visitors.”

Much of Mary Lou’s work locally and regionally has impacted the state as well. Sea Week in Juneau became the Alaska Sea and River Week program through the support of the Alaska Sea Grant College Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The university took her successful program to the state level and revised King’s local Sea Week guides to be the Alaska Seas and Rivers Week Guides. King’s use of informed parents leading classes on minus-tide walks, rainforest walks and birds walks with lectures and lessons from US Coast Guard safety personnel, Alaska Fish and Game Department wildlife biologists, Fish and Wildlife biologists and NOAA University oceanographers has remained the model. In 2004, King and her husband Jim were jointly awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Alaska Conservation Foundation for their contributions to the state of Alaska. The stated purpose of this award is “To celebrate the accomplishments of remarkable individuals who have made a difference by devoting significant parts of their lives to protecting and enhancing Alaska’s natural greatness, and thanks them for their tireless dedication and advocacy.” King was also recognized twice for her help in identifying and photographing two new species to the official Alaska state checklist of birds. The species were the green-backed heron (August 1983, #407) and the scissor-tailed flycatcher (July 2002, #469).

King joined the effort in the 1970’s to protect Admiralty Island by writing letters, campaigning for protection, and relying on a scientific study about the impact on the island’s wildlife. The campaign was successful and the area was protected through the establishment of Admiralty National Monument in 1978, then in statute in 1980 in the Alaska National Interest Lands Claims Act. The Forest Service now manages the island, which hosts a mine, but also provides the nation a special natural and cultural area for generations to come. In 1999 Mary Lou and Jim King made a legacy contribution to their community by leaving land from their homestead at the edge of the tide flats to the Southeast Alaska Land Trust. Mary Lou and Jim King continue to live in Juneau and to advocate for the interests they’ve been involved in throughout their lives there. Their son James became the first Executive Director of Trail Mix, Inc. a nonprofit corporation that works with the agencies to manage the Juneau trails system. He later served as the Alaska’s State Parks Director. He currently lives in Juneau with his wife Christine and their four kids where he works for the U.S. Forest Service as the regional Director of Recreation, Lands and Minerals.

Brenda Wright, a friend and colleague who nominated King for this award described why she tapped her for the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame award:

She is a charismatic person who can draw one into her projects with her enthusiasm. She drafts someone, then mentors and teaches them and then they go on to contribute and to leadership and then she works and helps the next volunteer. Whether the project is fundraising by manufacturing dozens of cedar bark animal ornaments, or producing local fruit jam five batches at a time, or working with City Planning Department staff, or lobbying the legislature, or advocating in Congress, she commits herself wholly to the project she is involved in and is a role model for all. She mentored a whole community to recognize the richness of our intertidal and natural gifts. 

Honors/Awards Received:

The Great Egret Award, The National Audubon Society, 2012. “In recognition of generous contributions in preserving the history of the Juneau-Douglas area.”

Lifetime Achievement Award, Gastineau Channel Historical Society, 2007.

Lifetime Achievement Award, The Alaska Conservation Foundation, 2004, with husband Jim.

Volunteer Service Recognition, Southeast Alaska Land Trust, 1999.

Conservation Award for Exceptional Service, State of Alaska, Alaska State Museum, Governor Tony Knowles, 1996.

Citizen Participation Award in Recognition of Service through Gold and Blue Ribbon Capital City Citizens Committee, Chevron, 1989.

Governor’s Volunteer Award of the Year, Juneau School District, 1986.

Special Commendation for Valuable Public Service, State of Alaska, Governor Bill Sheffield, 1986.

Juneau Community Education Volunteer Award of the Year, City and Borough of Juneau, Mayor Fran Ulmer, 1985.

Conservation Educator of the Year Award, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Department of Interior, Washington, DC, 1983.

Other acknowledgements:

Single handedly, Mary Lou raised Juneau consciousness to the magnificence and uniqueness of our home. By developing the underlying structure of the base curriculum, the rotating low tide beach use, the use of professional agencies to support classroom and field experiences, she brought environment to the forefront for every child.

— Susan Baxter, retired teacher and former Juneau Sea Week Coordinator

Mary Lou is such a kind and generous lady who is open to learning – perhaps one of the reasons she was part of the group of Sea Week organizers. Growing up with Sea Week as a part of our spring time learning was always exciting for me because it mirrored my experiences outside of school – we were always going to the beaches or along shorelines for various reasons – food gathering, playing, picnics, etc. As an elementary teacher this is a natural opportunity for me to integrate Tlingit ecological knowledge and language along with the science curriculum of Sea Week. We also try to go to the beach at different times of the year to see similarities and differences. I am thankful for the program, and humbled to know Mary Lou King.

— Hans Chester, Tlingit Language & Culture Teacher, Juneau School District

My first work in Alaska was learning from Mary Lou about how to teach Alaskan students about the natural and cultural world around them. I’ve applied what Mary Lou taught me then in every job I’ve had since. The philosophy of education she modeled in Sea Week in Juneau and the basic tenets of community members’ involvement in their students’ education have stayed with me and been promoted by me in every position I’ve held. And beyond my professional life, Mary Lou was simply a role model for living and the kind of person to be for me when I started life in Alaska. That will stay with me always.

— Peggy Cowan, past Superintendent of Juneau School District and North Slope Borough School District

Mary Lou has been a role model for me ever since I met her 30 years ago. We were both part of a small dedicated group of weavers that wove a Ravenstail Robe for the Alaska State Museum in Juneau when Ravenstail weaving was just beginning its resurgence. Her dedication to this art form and to basketry are obvious to all that know her . . . in her practice of these art forms, but also in the joy of teaching others and creating educational material that will help beginners. Mary Lou’s endless energy for weaving and the enjoyment she gets from sharing the simple pleasure of weaving and her knowledge of the sense of accomplishment, pride and value this weaving can bring to a person’s life are what inspire me to continue teaching Ravenstail weaving.

— Kay Parker, head of Ravenstail Weaver’s Guild

Show up at Mary Lou’s on weaving morning and you will be starting a basket and having the time of your life!”


King, J.G., King, M.L. Birds in Alaska’s south coastal environment: A workbook and Field Guide.

King, M.L. (2015). 90 short walks around Juneau. Discovery Southeast Taku Conservation Society Trail Mix, Inc.

King, M.L., Ekins, E. (2011). Nature detectives on our favorite trails.

Other materials developed by Mary Lou King:

“My Favorite Wild Southeast Alaska Berries and Greens”, “Illustrated Instructions for Twined Spruce Root or Cedar Bark Basket and a Model Spruce Fish Trap”, “Treadwell Mine Historic Trail, Juneau-Douglas Mining District, Walking Tour map & Historic Guide”, text Mary Lou King, “Perseverance Trail, Trail Guide”, coordinated by Mary Lou King and Paul Emerson, Eagle Beach State Recreation Area brochure (editor and contributor) Outer Point Trail

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/NU81p2AdOF8


Jim and Mary Lou King, Interview by the Juneau Community Foundation. Accessed at http://juneaucf.org/index.php/king/.

Mary Lou King. Hearthside Bookstore. Accessed at http://www.hearthsidebooks.com/localauthors/214320.

King, Jim & Mary Lou (Neville). Juneau-Douglas City Museum, Parks & Recreation, City and Borough of Juneau, Alaska. Accessed at: http://www.juneau.org/parkrec/museum/forms/GCM/readarticle.php?UID=923&newxtkey=.

Photo of Margaret Lowe

Margaret Lowe

Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Advocacy for Childern, Education, Mental Health

Margaret Lowe dedicated her life to advocacy and program development for children with special needs and their families. Beginning in the 1950s and spanning five decades, she helped build programs and services in Alaska that continue today to help children, adults and families with special needs.

Lowe began her work in an era when children with disabilities were removed from their families and institutionalized. Lowe believed with proper education and support, children with mental or emotional differences could lead productive lives within the community. Lowe achieved much success towards these goals in her lifetime.

Lowe helped found a preschool for special needs children using an innovative curriculum she had developed as a graduate student. When Lowe moved to Anchorage in 1964, she became active in the Parents Association for Retarded Children of Anchorage (now known as the ARC of Anchorage) and worked on legislation that allowed children with mental disabilities to attend public schools.

Lowe worked as a consultant, teacher and program evaluator, and would go on to serve as Director of the State Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, and Commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services. She served on many community groups, including the Mental Health Trust Board where she ensured the trust supported a broad array of disabilities. Lowe developed programs that helped families care for special needs children at home.

Margaret Lowe was a pioneer and visionary, and a persistent force of nature who tirelessly advocated for those with developmental disabilities and mental health issues. Through a family-focused approach, she ensured that families learned, grew and thrived as disabled family members received services. Lowe believed we can all be agents of change, and demonstrated this throughout her life.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/CCEJAMA4nBo

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Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Advocacy for Childern, Education, Mental Health

Godmother of Special Ed in Alaska

Margaret Lowe dedicated her life to advocacy and program development for children widows and their families beginning in the early 1950s. Over five decades in Alaska, she helped build many of the programs and services in Alaska that continue today to help children, adults and families with special needs including those experiencing other mental or emotional differences. Lowe began her work at a time when children with disabilities were still being removed from their families and institutionalized, but she strongly believed that with proper education and support, these children could lead productive lives within the community. She worked hard toward these goals throughout her career and achieved much success.  A comment reportedly made by Ed Graff, previous Superintendent of Anchorage School District: “I know Margaret…..she’s the godmother of special education in Alaska.“  

In her earliest years in Alaska, Lowe was one of the first classroom teachers at the Alaska Native Medical Center Hospital on Third Avenue in Anchorage where she learned a great deal about Alaska and developed a deep appreciation for the Alaska Native people. She continued to travel throughout the State of Alaska through her work and advocacy so she could continue to better understand the realities of providing services to Alaskans in rural and remote areas. She lived in Fairbanks for nine years where she completed her master’s degree in special education at UAF. For her thesis project, she developed a full preschool curriculum and presented it as a daily television show known as “School For Fun.” At that time there was no school or any curriculum for kids with developmental and intellectual disabilities. This lack of programs led to Lowe’s concern and involvement in the development of a strong parent group known as The Arctic Association for Retarded Children, a term used at the beginning of that movement. This group later became a chapter of the National Association. With a great deal of parental support and fundraising, a preschool for those children with special needs was organized with the ability to hire a teacher, and Lowe’s special needs preschool curriculum was used for that school.

With her move to Anchorage in 1964, Lowe became very active in the Parents Association for Retarded Children of Anchorage – now known as the ARC of Anchorage. She began as a volunteer but was soon setting up another preschool and became involved with others working hard on legislation so these children would be statutorily allowed to be in public school programs. President Kennedy instigated the President’s Committee on Mental Retardation which was a breakthrough for the whole field of developmental disabilities and led to the development of Alaska’s Governor’s Council on Special Education and Developmental Disabilities which Lowe eventually chaired.

In 1969, Lowe went back as a special education classroom teacher with the Anchorage School District (ASD) where she continued to work with students, teachers and parents of those experiencing developmental disabilities and those experiencing autism. She completed her administrative credentials in public school administration and special education and became the principal at the Whaley Center serving diverse populations of students with disabilities from 1975 to 1985. On through to her retirement from the ASD in 1985, Lowe had initiated and administered most of their special educational programs including serving as supervisor for the Blind and Visually Impaired Program.

Lowe served as Director of the State Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities and as Commissioner of Health and Social Services. During this time Alaska changed the term of Mental Retardation, which only measured IQ, to the federal definition of developmental disabilities, which was based on all sorts of behavioral traits acquired prior to birth or before the age of 22. Additionally, she served as consultant, adjunct professor, teacher and counselor trainer and program evaluator throughout the state. She also traveled to Russia eight times doing research, consulting and program development. There, she consulted with government agencies regarding how to develop basic programs for people who were in institutions and had very special needs. She worked with Russian orphanages to identify and the importance of intervention with the very young residents who were developmentally delayed, and she provided an introduction to autism to Russian public schools, explaining to them how autistic students were educated in the United States. She also spoke with psychiatric hospitals in rural areas of Russia about the importance of social interventions and therapy in addition to medical support.

Lowe had a serious interest in the Mental Health (MH) Trust since 1962 when still in Fairbanks. During her tenure as a state bureaucrat, the papers were signed establishing the statutory existence of the MH Trust. Lowe worked tirelessly to make sure the settlement of the Mental Health Land Trust included services for a more inclusive population of those who experienced mental illness and mental retardation as well as those with traumatic brain injuries, autism, epilepsy, severe emotional disturbance, cerebral palsy, severe physical disabilities and those experiencing Alzheimer’s and dementia. Once the $200 million in funding was secured, then came the challenge of ensuring services were available to serve these diverse populations. During this time, the closing of Harborview in Valdez (an institution for developmentally disabled and mentally ill Alaskans) was planned and implemented. The Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API) was also being planned.

As a member of the Board of Trustees of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority from 2005 to 2008 and Chair of their Rural Outreach Committee, Lowe was proactive in addressing very individualized and family-centered programs like Respite Care which was a significant program developed to provide families with funds to hire a competent relief worker for their child with special needs. With their goal to “Bring the Kids Home,” Alaskan programs were developed to provide local support for children who were seriously emotionally disturbed rather than placing them in programs out of state. Work force development issues were also being addressed to train more care providers to assist people in learning to work as well as providing their personal care. From 2002 to 2005, Lowe lived in Bethel in a construction trailer for weeks at a time to assist with further development of the local community services being provided to those experiencing developmental disabilities. Lowe thrived in rural Alaska and adapted quickly to the hardy way of life which she found to be both rewarding and life changing. She walked to work even when it was cold and windy and she enjoyed living in a community where people bonded together to help solve problems like frozen pipes. She embraced the strong sense of community that spanned generations to bring together aunts, uncles, grandparents and grandchildren

A Life on Purpose

Lowe’s parents were immigrants from Norway and came through Ellis Island in 1910 and 1914. They had very limited education themselves, but had a high regard for education and were very concerned that all of their five children would have good educations.   Lowe was raised to believe that one person can make a difference and that the very best things that happen in our country are those that come from the ground up, and that every person really can be an agent for change.

Lowe found mentors for effective citizen participation at the local and state levels in her earliest years in Alaska. Vic Fischer, a politician, taught Lowe about good government and how to advocate and be an honest person. Gov. Wally Hickel provided a role model for how to live all phases of life with integrity. Lowe was also inspired by parents like Teresa Thurston, a ruthless advocate for her boys who experienced disabilities; and Lee Brandon, who made her special taco recipe for many fundraisers, had two sons at Morningside and was determined things were going to get better for all of these children. Mary Carey, a Public Health Nurse in Fairbanks, identified a community need and figured out how to fill it.

Lowe belonged to the League of Women Voters, which had a very strong chapter in Anchorage. She helped charter the American Association of University Women (AAUW) whose first cause was to advocate with the university’s administration to get physical education for women, which was accomplished.

An important focus of her life related to her belief that the political system only works if people are involved in it. Even now, she sometimes works on issues that affect senior citizens. However, the area that she continues to be most concerned about is the quality of education in our country because democracy requires a literate population. Her current reading interests still include ecology, the environment, politics and the language and history of Russia. She enjoys knitting and needle point, playing piano, e-mailing friends, and has a personal trainer three times per week. She also recently started a “Hot Topics” monthly group at her current housing complex so residents could discuss current events and be involved politically.

As a single parent since 1973, Lowe basically worked a job and a half and raised three children: Tim (1956), Daniel (1959) and Mary (1965). Tim is a Land Economist and Appraiser living in Culver City, CA; Daniel is a Software Development Engineer living in Salem, OR; and Mary is Chair of the Religion Department at Augsburg University in Minneapolis, MN. Lowe has three granddaughters and two grandsons. “Margaret Lowe was one of the best role models I have had as a working mother. Whenever I am struggling to balance responsibilities, I think of Margaret and her strong work ethic and her many accomplishments despite her limited means, and it inspires me to keep doing my best and to renew my commitment to work, community and family.” – Elizabeth Manning

In summary, Margaret Lowe was an early visionary, a tireless pioneer and a persistent force of nature who, for over five decades, advocated for and provided services throughout the state to people who experience developmental disabilities and mental health issues.  Through all of her work, both directly and indirectly, she was committed to serving the families of youth with disabilities through her service.  Those family members were – then and now – very real and present to her, and she worked hard to assure families learned, grew and prospered as the disabled family member received a variety of services.

Lowe’s achievements, which have had significant impact

Community Achievements:

  • Developed a model preschool curriculum for children with special needs (Fairbanks and Anchorage).
  • Worked with parents to develop/support the Arctic Association for Retarded Children in Fairbanks, and then the Parents Association for Retarded Children of Anchorage, now known as ARC of Anchorage
  • While at ASD, initiated and built up programs to serve those with special needs and to better integrate them into the community.

Statewide Achievements:

  • Involved with the statutory requirement that mandated Alaskan public school programs for students with special needs.
  • Provided consultation on special needs programs to school districts and other organizations statewide.
  • As Commissioner of Health and Social Services, Margaret oversaw the organization of the Mental Health Trust and its support to those with special needs.

Education and Training

  • BS, Early Childhood & Elementary Education, University of Minnesota, 1951.
  • MA, Special Education, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, 1965
  • Education Specialist, Public School Administration Credential, University of Alaska, Anchorage, 1974.
  • Administrative Training Program, 1976. Teacher Training Program, 1975; Judevine Center for Autistic Children, St. Louis, Missouri.

Professional/Work History/Community Involvement: 

  • Prior to 1956: Classroom teacher for four years, first teacher at the Alaska Native Medical Center.
  • 1960-62: Writer/Presenter, Schools for Fun, KTVA TV Fairbanks, daily television show for preschool/primary age children.
  • 1966-1971: Alaska Governor’s Council on Mental Retardation, Governor’s Appointee and Chair. Presided over transition of the Governor’s Council into the Alaska Developmental Disabilities Council.
  • 1969-1986: Teacher, principal, program administrator, Anchorage School District. Included initiating and administering many ASD special education programs.
  • 1974-1986: Part-time adjunct faculty, UAA
  • 1985-1986: Consultant to the State of Minnesota Department of Education
  • 1972-1981: Consultant (intermittently) to school districts throughout Alaska and to the Resource Alaska Project
  • 1986: Faculty, UAA, School of Education
  • 1986-1990: President of the Arc of Anchorage
  • 1991-1993: Director, Division of Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities
  • 1993-1994: Commissioner, Health and Social Services
  • 1994-1996: Owner, Humanitarian Services Consulting Company
  • 1996-1999: Executive Director, Foundation of the Arc; Associate Director, Arc of Anchorage
  • 1999-2001: Executive Director, Arc of Anchorage
  • 2005-2008: Trustee on the board of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority.

Honors/Awards Received:

  • Association for Retarded Citizens, Fairbanks, Alaska, Service Award, 1964.
  • Association for Retarded Citizens, Anchorage, Alaska, Outstanding Member of the Year Award, 1975.
  • Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington, President’s Award, 1982.
  • National Speaker’s Bureau of the Handicapped Nominee, 1986
  • PADD (Protection and Advocacy for the Developmentally Disabled), 1986
  • Alaska State Parents of Autistic Children Service Award, 1986
  • White House Conference on Aging Delegate, 1995

Citations of written sources of information about the nominee: • UAF, Oral History Project, The AK Mental Health Trust History, Margaret Lowe, audio interview and transcript: https://jukebox.uaf.edu/site7/interviews360

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/CCEJAMA4nBo

Photo of Edna (Ahgeak) MacLean Ph.D.

Edna (Ahgeak) MacLean Ph.D.

Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Iñupiaq Language

Dr. MacLean has been a teacher, scholar, community leader and policymaker whose work in education and the documentation of her Iñupiaq language continues to create opportunities and cultural connection for Alaska’s Iñupiaq people.

Raised bilingual, MacLean grew up at a time when children were punished for speaking their Native languages in school.

In 1976, with a Bachelors degree and teaching credential, MacLean was hired to develop and teach Iñupiaq language courses at UAF. A fluent speaker, she had to read and write the language for the first time and often found herself learning along with her students. She discovered a passion for the work and a love of research as she began documenting the Iñupiaq language and how best to teach it.

In 1987, MacLean became the state’s Special Assistant for Rural Education. Here, she began to see the effect of Alaska’s education practices on the success of Native students. Wanting a deeper understanding of the problem, she returned to school, to study the impact of the student and teacher relationship, particularly where they are of different cultures. Eventually, she earned an M.A. from the University of Washington and a Ph.D from Stanford University.

In 1995, MacLean was recruited to be the first president of Iḷisaġvik College, Alaska’s only accredited tribal college. There, she fulfilled the institution’s mission to train and educate residents for the jobs and opportunities in the region.

Throughout her career, Dr. MacLean has continued to document the Iñupiaq language. In 2014, she published an Iñupiaq language dictionary, the culmination of many years of scholarship. The dictionary is one element in her efforts to ensure that the language continues to be spoken and serves as “a source of strength” to her people.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/HfwZaAo5UAs

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Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Iñupiaq Language

Even as a child, Edna MacLean learned to navigate the complexities of speaking and learning in two languages. Her father, who only spoke Iñupiaq, told her the world was changing and if she was to succeed, she would need to do so in English. His understanding that the future of his children would be considerably different from his own helped to ensure that they all found ways to survive and thrive.

MacLean cites her mother as having defended her when she was physically disciplined by her third grade teacher for speaking Iñupiag in the classroom. When she went home for lunch that day, she hid her bright red ear from the teacher’s harsh treatment under the hood of her coat, fearful her mother would be angry. She was, but not with Edna. The errant teacher did not enjoy the ensuing confrontation.

MacLean began her university education at UAF; then, with the encouragement of faculty there, she transferred to Colorado Women’s College in Denver where she was given a scholarship, a powerful incentive for someone without other resources. She returned to Utqiaġvik for the summers, and there she met her future husband. Upon graduation, she realized she would improve her prospects by getting a teaching credential, which she did at the University of California in Berkeley, where her husband was pursuing a Ph.D. degree in Biology based on research done at Barrow.

After the birth of their second son, the family moved to Fairbanks where her husband had been offered a position at UAF. Shortly after they arrived, she was contacted by Dr. Michael Krauss, then head of the Alaska Native Language Center. Dr. Krauss was among the first linguists to create an awareness of the global problem of endangered languages. He wanted her to help develop programs and teach Iñupiaq to UAF students.

MacLean’s first reaction was to laugh and decline, but he insisted, telling her “It is your duty!” She eventually relented and in 1976, ended up in a job she loved, and one that would expose her to new ways of thinking about language and education. It was during this time that she began learning to read and write her Native Iñupiaq language and to explore the best methods of teaching.

In 1987, MacLean had the opportunity to work in education policy as Special Assistant for Rural Education for the Alaska Commissioner of Education. It was in this role that she saw the poor performance of Alaska Native students since the State had taken responsibility for their education from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She was shocked, and she realized that she would need further education to be able to understand and influence the policies and practices that had created this problem.

MacLean talks about her father’s insistence that his children have a deep understanding of the environment in which they lived. It had been critical to his success and survival as a subsistence hunter and whaler. If he didn’t know the currents and the ice and weather conditions, it could have a huge affect on his ability to provide for his family and, at worst, it could prove fatal.

This way of thinking is clear in MacLean’s pursuit of further education. Only by gaining a deeper and more thorough understanding of how children learn, particularly in communities where the teachers and students have different life experiences and cultural backgrounds, could she help to devise programs and policies that would serve Alaska’s Native youth. And so she sought out institutions where the experts were teaching and researching what she needed to know. She ended up with an M.A. from the University of Washington in Bilingual Education and a Ph.D in Education from Stanford University.

Upon completion of her Ph.D, MacLean was approached by community leaders who were developing a plan for a tribal college in Barrow. Their mission was to create a community college that offered the education and skills people in their community needed for the jobs and opportunities in Barrow. Dr. MacLean assumed the role of President of the developing institution, and under her leadership, in 2003, Ilisagvik College achieved accreditation as Alaska’s only Tribal College, serving the broad educational needs of the people of the North Slope.

The arrival of her first granddaughter precipitated her retirement from Ilisagvik College and move to Anchorage. Here, she was able to concentrate her attention on a long-standing project, the production of a dictionary of her native language. In 2014 this finally came to fruition with publication of the dictionary by the University of Alaska and University of Chicago Presses. The dictionary has been called “a monument of linguistic scholarship” and “a magnificent work of Iñupiaq lexicography”.

Today, Dr. MacLean continues her teaching through a Master Apprentice Program in which she works to help adults wanting to learn Iñupiaq through individualized programs of instruction. She remains involved with a North Slope Borough task force on language, recognizing that it will take a sustained, comprehensive, and strategic approach involving parents, teachers and community members to ensure that the Iñupiaq language endures.

Career Highlights

1976 – 1987   Instructor, Assistant Professor, then Associate Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks. Developed and taught language courses and B.A. degree program in Iupiaq.

1987 – 1990   Special Assistant for Rural Education for the Alaska Commissioner of Education in Juneau.

1995 – 2005   First President of Ilisagvik College in Utqiagvik, Alaska.

Volunteer Leadership 

1973-83         Member/President; North Slope Borough Commission on History, Language and Culture

1978-83         Inuit Circumpolar Conference Committee on Education

1983-95         Steering Committee for International Cross-Cultural Education Seminar Series in the Circumpolar North

1987-91         Committee on Arctic Social Sciences, Polar Reserach Board, National Research Council

1989-92         Inuit Circmpolar Conference Executive Council, Vice President for Alaska

1996               Member, Rural Educator Preparation Partnership

1996               Volunteer Iñupiaq reader for the Early Education Program at Ipalook Elementary School, Utqiaġvik

1998-2005     National Science Foundation Polar Programs Office Advisory  Committee

1999-2003     Founding member and Chairperson of the Consortium for Alaska  Native Higher Education

2000-05         Alaska Growth Capital Board of Directors

2001-05         Member, Alaska Process Industry Careers Consortium

2001-05         The Foraker Group Operations Board Committee

2001-05         Old Testament Bible Translation Review Committee, Utqiagvik

2002-05         Alaska Humanities Forum board member

2004-2007     Quality Education for Minorities Network, Washington D.C.

2008               Member, Expert working group on offshore hydrocarbon in the Arctic, as

part of project, Arctic TRANSFORM: Transatlantic Policy Options for

Supporting Adaptations in the Marine Arctic 

Honors and Awards

1985               Elected a Fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America, recognizing significant contributions to the knowledge of polar and sub-polar regions

1987, 1995    President’s Award for Education, Alaska Federation of Natives

1996               Certificate of Recognition for dedicated service provided to the shareholders of UIC and the People of the North Slope, presented

by Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation

1997               Certificate of Appreciation, presented by the North Slope Borough and Inuit Circumpolar Conference

1999               Educator of the Year: Bobby Andrew Award, presented by the Alaska Native Education Council at the Alaska Native Education Council


2003               Certificate of Achievement for Success in achieving the first fully accredited, Native-controlled college (Ilisagvik College) in the

State  of Alaska for the Inupiat Communities of the North Slope, presented by the Inupiat Communities of the Arctic Slope

2004               Alumni Hall of Fame, Native American Cultural Center, Stanford University

2005               Shareholder of the Year, Ukpeagvik Inupiat Corporation

2006               Citizen of the Year Award, Alaska Federation of Natives

2006               Distinguished Service to the Humanities Award, Governor’s Awards  for the Humanities

2015                 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation, Barrow, Alaska.

2015                 Contributions to Literacy (CLIA) in Alaska Award. Alaska Center for the Book, Anchorage, Alaska.

Educational Achievement

Mt. Edgecumbe High School; Sitka, Alaska

University of Alaska; Fairbanks, Alaska; Studies in Mathematics and Economics

Colorado Women’s College; Denver, Colorado; B.A.; Major in History, Minors in Humanities and German

University of California; Berkeley, California; California Life Teaching Credential

Aarhus University; Aarhus, Denmark; Graduate study in Greenlandic Eskimo language

University of Washington; Seattle, Washington; M.A. in Education (Bilingual Education)

Stanford University; Palo Alto, California; Ph.D; Education

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/HfwZaAo5UAs

Photo of Dorothy (Guzzi) Page

Dorothy (Guzzi) Page

1921 1989
Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Community Activism, Historic Preservation, Political Activism, Writing

Dorothy Page, known as the “Mother of the Iditarod”, enlisted the support of Joe Redington Sr., known as the “Father of the Iditarod”, to stage the first race in 1967 between Knik and Big Lake. In 1973 the race was run over 1, 000 miles between Anchorage and Nome. Today, “The Last Great Race” is staged each March with mushers from around the world competing in Alaska’s premier sporting event.

Page advocated tirelessly to have Congress designate the Iditarod Trail as a National Historic Trail in 1978. Across the U.S., only 16 trails have won this historical designation. The Alaskan trail celebrates the indispensable role played by “man’s best friend” in the last great gold rush.

As a writer and editor, Page published the Iditarod’s annual race program and edited, The Iditarod Runner. Page also wrote for the Frontiersman and the Valley Sun. She was a member of the Alaska Press Women and National Federation of Press Women and received State and National Press Awards for her publication of the Iditarod Trail Annual.

In the Mat-Su Valley, Page established the Wasilla-Knik-Willow Creek Historical Society, the Wasilla Museum, and Knik Museum. As a public servant Page was on the Wasilla Library Board, Wasilla’s Republican Committee, Wasilla City Counsel and served as Mayor of Wasilla. She was recognized for her years of service to the Mat-Su Borough by resolution honoring her “Distinguished Service to the Community”.

In 1984, Page was the recipient of the Governor’s Volunteer Award, presented by Governor Bill Sheffield. She was the recipient of the Mayor of Wasilla’s proclamation honoring Page’s life in 1989 and she received the State of Alaska’s Legislative Citation by the 16th Alaska Legislature in 1990.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/qWAy0VssBsU

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1921 1989
Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Community Activism, Historic Preservation, Political Activism, Writing

Dorothy Guzzi Page (“Mother of the Iditarod”) was born on January 23, 1921, in Bessemer, Michigan to parents Arcole C. Guzzi and Mary Mae Jago Guzzi. She moved with her family to Duluth and then to Minneapolis, where she spent most of her early life.

Following her high school graduation in 1939, Dorothy moved to Albuquerque then to Los Alamos, New Mexico.  She worked the front office, in medical records of the Los Alamos Hospital. She also worked as the chief telephone operator. She opened Dorothy’s Café in 1950, across from the famous Camel Rock Trading Post.

Page married Vondole Page, on June 17, 1959, in Taos, New Mexico. They operated the trading post and café until they took a vacation to Alaska in 1960. They never lived in New Mexico again and moved to Dillingham, Alaska.  Von worked as a Superintendent of schools and Page worked in the school office. In 1962 they moved to Wasilla, Alaska. Here she saw her first sled dog race, an event which would play a significant role in her many contributions to Alaska.

In 1965, Page was chairperson of Wasilla’s Alaska Centennial Committee. As a Centennial project, she initiated the idea of reopening the historic Iditarod Trail between Knik and Big Lake.Dog mushing had been the primary means of communication and transportation in the Bush and Interior by Alaska Natives for centuries and remained so for the Russian, American and French-Canadian fur trappers in the 19th century, reaching its peak during the gold rushes of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During the 1960s snow machines started to replace the dog teams and they almost vanished.

In her own words, Page, the self-described “history buff” wanted, “a spectacular dog race to awaken Alaskans to what mushers and their dogs had done for Alaska”. Page began the work of organizing support for her idea however, she unable to get the support of a single dog musher until she met Joe Redington, Sr. at the Willow Winter Carnival. Redington, who would later become known as the “Father of the Iditarod” used dog teams to perform search and rescue for the U.S. Air Force and owned a large kennel. He also had been lobbying to make the Iditarod Trail a National Historic Trail since the 1950s. Redington agreed to lend his support to the event on the condition that a purse of $25,000 would be divided among the winners. With Page’s determination, the money was soon raised.

The historic Iditarod Trail, which passed through both Wasilla and Knik, was an ideal stage for the first of many dog races. In February 1967, fifty-eight dog mushers competed in two heats along a 25 mile stretch of the old Iditarod Trail between Wasilla and Knik.  The race was modeled after the first large dog sled race in the state, the 1908 to 1918 All-Alaskan Sweepstakes (AAS) of Nome. The official name of this 1967 event was the Iditarod Trail Seppala Memorial Race and honored the three-time Sweepstakes champion, Leonhard Seppala.  While Seppala was most famous for participating in the 1925 serum run which saved the city of Nome from a diphtheria epidemic, Page reported “Seppala was picked to represent all mushers”. The 1969 race over the same trail with a purse of $1,000, attracted only 12 mushers and was the last until 1973, when, largely due to Redington, the race to Nome was established. Page continued to support the Iditarod in many ways throughout her life and, although she never raced, in 1997 she was posthumously awarded as an honorary musher.

Page served on the Iditarod Trail Committee’s board of directors since its inception. Throughout the years, Page served on many committees for the Iditarod, including the executive committee. At the time of her death, she was serving as the treasurer.

While leading the Centennial Committee in 1966, her drive to preserve the early history of the Valley was the force for establishment of Wasilla-Knik-Willow Creek Historical Society. She served as President.  She was instrumental in founding Wasilla Museum, Knik Museum and served as curator for both museums.  She served as a member of Wasilla Library Board for 20 years. 1973-1989 – Wrote, edited and published the Iditarod’s annual race program and edited the race’s news magazine, The Iditarod Runner.  She wrote weekly columns for the Frontiersman, plus feature articles and articles of historic interest for both the Frontiersman and the Valley Sun.  She served 4 terms on Wasilla City Council.  She served as Mayor of Wasilla 1986 and 1987.  She served as Wasilla’s Republican Committee woman from 1968.  She was a long-time member of the Alaska Press Women and the National Federation of Press Women.

Described by her friend, Gail Phillips, “Dorothy had the unfailing, innate and wonderful ability to get the right people involved in activities she felt they should be involved in, especially if she herself was involved.  Once she had scoped out a “victim’s” strength and abilities, and determined where that person was needed most, she would move mountains to make sure they got involved.  A large part of Iditarod’s tremendous success over the years can be attributed to Dorothy’s ability to get the right people involved in the right job. In addition, once a person was in a position to help, Dorothy continued to help – she didn’t leave people hanging out on a limb. She could always be counted on for support and help.”

Although Dorothy Page is most famous for being the “Mother of the Iditarod”, many people remember her as a tireless advocate for building and preserving communities in Alaska. After her passing, many people wrote in to The Iditarod Runner to share their personal stories and thanks to one of Alaska’s most treasured women. Page’s friend, Representative Curt Maynard wrote, “Dorothy’s spirit is the legacy I would like to recognize and honor. It is her enthusiasm and diligence that has inspired others to pursue their goals and dreams. I know of many of my neighbors in the Valley watched her get the ball rolling on the Iditarod and they caught the “volunteer spark”. Anyone who’s life was touched by Dorothy was stirred to do a little more, try a little harder, give more time and energy to their neighborhood, church, or school. The Valley has a rich history that through Dorothy’s efforts is preserved for our children and grandchildren. The common bond that she created by her spirit insures a rich future also. Thank you Dorothy and we hope to see you on down the trail.”

List of Awards received by Page:

1984: Recipient of the Governor’s Volunteer Award presented by Governor Bill Sheffield.

1986: Dorothy received the Wasilla-Knik-Willow Creek Society Gold Pan Award.  She won both state and national awards for her Iditarod Trail Annuals.

1989: After her death, the Wasilla Museum was renamed the Dorothy G. Page Museum.

1989:   She was the recipient of the Mayor of Wasilla’s proclamation honoring Dorothy’s life in.

1990: She was the recipient of the State of Alaska’s Legislative Citation by the 16th Alaska Legislature.

1997:  She was named the Honorary Musher for Iditarod 25.  She is commemorated by the Dorothy G. Page Halfway Award, given to the first musher to reach the halfway point of the annual race, in Cripple in even-numbered years and in Iditarod in odd-numbered years.

She received State and National Press Awards for her publication of the “Iditarod Trail Annual”

She was recognized for her years of service to the Matanuska-Susitna Borough by resolution recognizing her “Distinguished Service to the Community”.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/qWAy0VssBsU

Photo of Michelle “Mish” Ridgway

Michelle “Mish” Ridgway

Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Conservation, Education, Exploration, Marine Ecology

Upon the sudden death of marine scientist, educator and conservationist Michelle Ridgway there was much discussion on social media. One comment, though, seemed to capture them all. It came from former legislator Andrea Doll … “I am mourning the loss of someone greater than life.”

Life-long Alaskan Ridgway was, indeed, a larger than life figure. Whether piloting a submarine to explore the ocean’s largest undersea canyon, helping document a new species of kelp or whale, fighting for marine conservation across Alaska or building the next generation of Alaskan scientists with her marine science camps…she cut a figure that was at once memorable and impactful.

She was happiest underwater— swimming, diving, or piloting a research submarine— being part of the ocean she loved. She used her intimate knowledge of the ocean to become a fierce advocate for sustainable fisheries, clean water, and seafloor protection. As an advisor on several federal committees, she used her marine ecology acumen to scrutinize marine management decisions that many at the table considered from narrower perspectives.

Alaska is fortunate that Ridgway left her imprint on the next generation of ocean scientists. Beginning in 2005, Ridgway collaborated with local conservationists, school districts, and Native entities to develop and deliver week-long intensive Marine Science Camps. She directed more than a dozen marine science camps in Old Harbor, Juneau, Akutan, the Pribilof Islands, and Sitka Alaska.

She used her first PFD check to get SCUBA-certified so she could spend “the rest of my life being a research diver”. Indeed that is what she did, diving on Christmas Day just days before her death. Among her most memorable dives, she piloted a solo submarine during the first exploration of Zhemchug Canyon in the Bering Sea.

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/g01nVF0Chjc


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Categories: 2018 Alumnae, Conservation, Education, Exploration, Marine Ecology

Upon the sudden death of marine scientist, educator and conservationist Michelle Ridgway, there was much discussion on social media. One comment, though, seemed to capture them all. It came from former legislator Andrea Doll … “I am mourning the loss of someone greater than life.”

Life-long Alaskan Michelle Ridgway was, indeed, a larger than life figure. Whether piloting a submarine to explore the ocean’s largest undersea canyon, helping document a new species of kelp or whale, fighting for marine conservation across Alaska or building the next generation of Alaskan scientists with her marine science camps … Michelle was at once memorable and impactful.

Michelle developed her love and appreciation for marine life while growing up on Ketchikan’s shore. She later pursued her education in marine biology, algal ecology, and fisheries sciences at Evergreen State College, the University of Washington, Kobe University (Kobe Japan), and University of Alaska Fairbanks.

While working as a fisheries biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in the 1980’s, Michelle loved conducting fisheries fieldwork throughout Alaska. She later worked as a Research Associate with the University of Alaska and ultimately developed a career as a private contractor, creating a consulting firm (Oceanus Alaska) and educational portal (Alaska Deep Ocean Science Institute) through which she was actively engaged as a marine ecologist, researcher, and educator for nearly three decades.

Michelle Ridgway was a marine ecologist in the most comprehensive sense of the term. She was fascinated by the intricacies and inter-relationships of marine species, from microscopic zooplankton to the massive whales they nourished. She studied, described, and measured the bio/chemo/physical properties of the marine environment needed to sustain marine species, helping to define species’ Essential Habitat in objective and mathematical terms.

Michelle believed the only way to truly understand a marine species and its habitat was to observe it in situ— alive and underwater. So she dove, she ran Remote Operating Vehicles (ROV), and she piloted submarines. She was at home underwater. She explored marine realms from the tropics to the ice-covered arctic, from intertidal pools to ocean canyons, observing and then sharing this unique perspective with others.

A highlight of her career was to be among the first scientists to ever explore the Zhemchug Canyon, an 8,500-foot deep canyon that plunges into the Aleutian Basin near the Pribilof Islands. Sponsored by a research expedition of Greenpeace, Michelle piloted an 8-foot-long solo submarine to explore, document, and sample deep-water denizens of the canyon’s depths. Her observations during these dives shed new light on the distribution of zooplankton communities in Zhemchug Canyon depths. Rather than living only in the upper water column and raining down to depths as detritus as was commonly believed, Michelle found these tiny creatures (that form the basis of the entire marine food web) even at depths of nearly 1800 feet in the Zhemchug Canyon. In her own words, Michelle noted, “The entire water column was teeming with a very dense aggregation of zooplankton. It’s rich and living at every depth we examined.”

Michelle never just observed and documented marine life. Her passion was in sharing what she knew. This sharing of knowledge— through elaborate descriptions, intimate photos, and underwater video— was Michelle’s unique gift. Her fascination and appreciation of marine species, their habitat, adaptations, and ecological connections was contagious. She would explore tidepools with a 5 year old in the morning and testify about Essential Fish Habitat before federal resource managers in the afternoon… and both audiences would come away with a new awareness of their marine environment.

But Michelle connected uniquely with young minds and beginning in 2005, she collaborated with local conservationists, school districts, and Native entities to develop and deliver intensive Marine Science Camps. Over ten years, she directed more than a dozen week-long marine science camps in Old Harbor, Juneau, Akutan, the Pribilof Islands, and Sitka. After tailoring a curriculum for each oceanic locale, local culture, and research/vessel resources available, Michelle directed these camps as action-packed, research-based scientific expeditions for students. She taught her students to observe without preconceptions. As a result, she and her student scientists collected data and samples during these camps that were instrumental in documenting a new species of kelp and beaked whale. NOAA is now emulating her design of marine science camps as a way to bridge government scientists with student groups.

Michelle’s impact on her students went beyond the Science Camps. Karin Holser, a teacher in the village of St. George, says, “She was willing to do whatever was needed to inspire them to want to learn more and to understand the ocean that surrounded their island. She was an incredible mentor to many of the kids of both St. George and St. Paul Island. She took these science camp kids to the Smithsonian to work with the new whale species that was discovered on St. George. She took them to NYC to the Explorers Club, she coached them to be keynote speakers at a North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) conference, and they got an award from the Alaska Conservation Foundation.”

To the students in these science camps, Michelle was on the level of famed oceanographer and explorer Sylvia Earle (dubbed “Her Deepness” by fellow scientists). Michelle mentored and inspired them to the same degree that Sylvia Earle inspired her. It should be no surprise to learn that Michelle joined Sylvia as a member of the prestigious Explorer’s Club, an international organization of scientists, adventurers and philanthropists, promoting exploration throughout the world.

Beyond her exploratory nature, Michelle was known in the marine fisheries and conservation world as an unblinking advocate for marine species, habitats, and resources. Her dedication to science-based marine conservation led to Michelle’s service as an early board member (1995-2001) of the Alaska Marine Conservation council (AMCC) where she helped build a community-based conservation program. Michelle inspired the new organization to address large fishery management challenges by focusing on the whole ecosystem and the fishing communities that rely on healthy oceans. She guided the program to be rooted in science while boldly challenging the status quo.

In 2000, Michelle was appointed to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (NPFMC) Advisory Panel where she served from April 2000 through December 2008. It was in the policy forum where she used her marine ecology acumen to scrutinize decisions that most others at the table considered from narrower perspectives.

David Witherell, the current Executive Director of the NPFMC, says, “Michelle was a passionate advocate for resource conservation and habitat protection in the marine waters off Alaska. As a scientist with first-hand knowledge and direct observation of seafloor habitats, she brought a unique perspective to the Advisory Panel’s discussions and deliberations on the best approach to conserving and managing the fisheries off Alaska.  Michelle had a great influence on the development of major conservation policies, including actions taken by the Council to protect vast areas of deep-sea corals, reduce bycatch, and reduce potential impacts of fishing on Steller sea lions.”

Michelle also served as an advisor to NOAA on the National Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee from 2010-2014. Later she worked closely with Alaska Native Tribal communities to help nominate the Pribilof Domain of the Bering Sea as Alaska’s first National Marine Sanctuary.

Although leading a full career as a marine ecologist and conservationist, Michelle always made time to reach out to young people— and especially women— aspiring to become marine scientists. In her own notes about her career, Michelle stated that she mentored dozens of young women in high school and college. One of these dozen young women is Emma Good currently a student at Western Washington University. Emma Good says, “What I will remember most is Michelle’s passion and commitment to not only help, but inspire young scientists like myself to succeed in the field. For young students it is so important to have strong role models and I hope one day I will be able to give back to this community in the same way that Michelle mentored and cared about me.”

In her personal life, Michelle embraced life with the same degree of passion she exhibited in her professional life. She sailed, mushed huskies, was a volunteer fire-fighter/EMT, and played a mean game of tennis and hockey, among many other activities. But foremost in her life was her fierce loving loyalty to family and friends.

Michelle believed one thing that wove together the many strands of her life:  What you do matters.  Whether exploring the waters depths, teaching a friend to mush dogs or visiting distant relatives, she made an intentional effort in every moment of her life.  She believed it mattered.

Additional Resources:

Anchorage Daily News story about her trip into Zhemchug Canyon – https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/science/2016/11/12/an-alaska-researcher-made-tantalizing-discoveries-in-a-massive-underwater-bering-sea-canyon/

Link to submarine video of Michelle’s solo submarine journey into Zhemchug Canyon – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HezO6sZ_iA

Anchorage Daily News story about new species of beaked whale – https://www.adn.com/alaska-news/wildlife/2016/07/26/new-and-rare-whale-species-identified-from-carcass-found-in-pribilofs/

Journal Nature article on the discovery of Golden-V kelp at the Pribilof Islands –https://www.nature.com/articles/srep02491

Induction ceremony acceptance speech https://youtu.be/g01nVF0Chjc