Tyler Dean "Tag" Eckles died on the morning of July 26, 2009, after a valiant fight against cancer, with his wife Hildegard and friends at his side. He was 59.
A longtime fixture in the Juneau music scene, Tag lived in Juneau since 1971. He fell in love with the place while touring with his rock 'n' roll show band, Ben Roe. Since that time, he was known as a musician, composer, bon vivant and for many years, as Professor Phineas Poon, the beloved honky tonk piano player and comedian at the Red Dog Saloon. He created music for plays and films including "Pieces of Eight" (Perseverance Theatre), "The Shadow Walkers" and "Shooting the West." He was a member of the Saint Paul Singers and in 1986 toured across Russia with the Alaska Performing Artists for Peace, in their effort to open the Alaska-Russia border.
He is survived by his wife, Hildegard Sellner, of Juneau; daughter, April Powell; grandson, Thomas Tyler Powell; and son-in-law, Steven Powell, all of Houston; stepson, Nicholas Samoniego, of Juneau; brother, Gaylord Eckles, of Sierra Madre, Calif.; niece, Savanna Eckles, of Berkeley, Calif.; cousin, Tom Eckles, of Gualala, Calif.; godmother, Dixie Belcher, of Juneau; and countless friends he considered family.
He was a founding member of the notorious Juneau Fencing Club, an adopted member of the Eagle-Killer Whale clan (his Tlingit name is Skanuch), and a council member of Turning the Tides.
"He will be remembered by everyone who knew him for his ebullient high spirits, his unflagging optimism, his generosity and his great, great love of life," his wife said.
There will be an open house potluck all day Sunday, Aug. 2, at Hildegard Sellner's and Tag's house. All of their friends are invited. A wake and poker run will be held on a weekend in September. Stay tuned for further information.
Donations can be made to Turning the Tides (www.turningthetides.org) for the new Life Force Healing Center in Juneau. For more information, call Hildegard Sellner at 723-0789.