Emma G. Widmark died peacefully at 12:50 a.m., on July 7, 2008, at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage. She was 68.
Born April 14, 1940, in Ketchikan, to Dr. Alfred and Carmel Widmark, she was an active Tlingit Elder and champion of education for her family and all Native people, her family said. She was raised in Klawock and Ketchikan and moved to Juneau in 1967, where she made her home.
She was a constant light and advocated for the education and well-being of rural people throughout the state of Alaska, her family said. She attended elementary school in Ketchikan, graduated from Sheldon Jackson High School in 1958, attended Pepperdine University and then moved to graduate from her father's alma mater, Oregon State, with a Bachelor of Science in home economics around 1962. She later earned her Master of Education at Harvard University.
She dedicated her life to promoting education and strongly advocated for the pursuit of advanced education. Her family said she worked tirelessly to help families as a home economist for the University of Alaska Cooperative Extension, traveling extensively throughout rural Alaska. She also taught at Sheldon Jackson and worked for Tlingit and Haida and the New Mexico University as a home economist.
Her family said she was very active in the community and well-known for her generosity and consideration. She was a former grand president of the Alaska Native Sisterhood and was a lifetime member. Fellow sisterhood members said, "If you opened up her heart you would find ANS stamped inside."
She will be dearly missed by all who she touched, her family said.
She was preceded in death by her parents.
She is survived by her siblings, Byron and Mary Ellen Skinna, Alfred Eric Widmark Jr., Clarence and Chris Duke, Roy and Irene Tansy, Dick and Edith Jacobsen, and Don and Randi Reader; numerous nieces, nephews, grandchildren and the light of her life, Sarah Emma Elizabeth Read.
Emma will be buried in the Alaskan Memorial Park in Juneau, next to her parents.
The first memorial service and celebration of life will be held today, July 9, in Anchorage at the First Covenant Church. Visitation will be at 1 p.m. Service will be at 2 p.m. with reception to follow. The family will be taking her home to Juneau, where there will be a service at 7 p.m. Friday, June 11, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall. Burial will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Alaskan Memorial Park and Mortuary.