Irene Widmark Tansy

Posted: Thursday, March 05, 2009

Former Ketchikan resident Irene Widmark Tansy died March 1, 2009. She was 65.

Born Dec. 2, 1943, in Ketchikan, to Alfred and Carmel Widmark, she was Tlingit of the Raven and Dog Salmon clan. She attended Sheldon Jackson High School and graduated in 1967 from the University of Alaska Fairbanks with a degree in home economics. It was there she met Roy Tansy, of Cantwell.

She worked for the Juneau District Attorney's office before marrying Roy on June 1, 1968. Dr. Walter Sobeloff officiated their ceremony in Juneau. They made their first home in Cantwell. In 1974, they moved to Copper Center. Irene was especially proud to be adopted by Harry and Ruth Johns as a part of their Athabascan family.

She worked in the accounting office of Ahtna Inc. until returning to college to earn her teaching certificate in 1982. She went on to teach in the Copper River School District until her retirement. She was the first native teacher in the district. Teaching was not only her life's work, but also her passion. She loved her job, her coworkers and especially her students. She loved supporting all the local school sports. After retirement she gave her time to numerous boards such as Haskell Board of Regents, Alyeska Blue Ribbon Committee, Cross Roads Medical Center Board, Sheldon Jackson Alumni Board, and Ahtna Heritage Foundation. Sharing zest for life and adventure with Roy, she learned to fly their plane. She also enjoyed beading, quilting and crocheting many baby blankets. In addition to all her activities she always participated in church. She was a member of Glennallen Chapel. Roy and Irene lived both in Copper Center and Cantwell. She is fondly remembered for her generosity, birthday cakes for each one of her students every year and her faith. Her love and support made us better people for knowing her.

This year was full of many wonderful memories. Irene and Roy celebrated 40 years of marriage with a family trip to her home town of Klawock. An additional highlight to the trip, all of the grandchildren received Tlingit names. Her children also sent them on a one week vacation to Japan this past fall.

She is survived by her husband, Roy Jake Tansy Sr.; children, Carmel (Douglas) Read, Roy Jake (Martha) Tansy Jr., and Douglas (Kristine) Tansy; grandchildren, were the light of her life. She will be sorely missed by Gabriel, Nathaniel, Hannah Irene, Sarah, Isaiah, Rebekah, Elli, Emma and Ruby. Surviving siblings include Eric Widmark, Byron (Mary Ellen) Skinna, Chris (Bud) Duke, Edee (Dick) Jacobsen, and Randy (Don) Reader. Other significant family members include: The Johns - Donald, Dorothy, Kenny, Patsy, Warren, Becky, Violet, and Norman; Jane and Greg Nicholas; Leonard and Louise Mayo; Ray and Helga Wiebe; Alec John; and many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her sister, Emma Widmark, and grandson, Josiah Read.

Anchorage visitation will begin at 12 p.m. with a service at 2 p.m., Thursday, March 5 at First Baptist on 10th and L, with a potluck meal to follow. There will be a service Saturday, March 7 at Kenny Lake High School at 12 p.m. with a potluck meal to follow. Burial will be in Cantwell with a service Sunday, March 8 at 2 p.m. at the Cantwell High School.

In lieu of flowers, money will be accepted for scholarships established in Irene's name.

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