Terry Pegues, who died this week at age 70, may best be remembered in Southeast as a sports broadcaster, but those close to him recall a much more complex man.
"Everyone I have spoken to has mentioned his unique character and personality. A lot of people use the phrase 'unforgettable character,' but he really was one," said Gus Adams, executive director of Baranof Island Housing Authority and a friend of Pegues since seventh grade.
Pegues spent years as the voice of Juneau's Gold Medal basketball tournament. He also worked for Tlingit-Haida Central Council and Sealaska Corp. in manpower training, personnel and grant writing.
"Terry was a big advocate for Native people" long before he married his wife, June, "a member of a prominent Tlingit family," said Adams. "Once when (Tlingit linguist) Nora Dauenhauer introduced him, she said, 'This is Terry Pegues; he used to be a white man.' "
Former Juneau Mayor Dennis Egan remembers Pegues as "a great broadcaster and a great friend" who "taught me a lot of things."
"When I was a kid in the early 1960s, he was a sportscaster who worked for KJNO in the basement of the Baranof (Hotel). He also did sports for KINY and other Southeast radio stations," Egan said.
"He would interject his opinion every now and then and get some staid people upset. He was one of the few who could pronounce all the names correctly during Gold Medal," said Egan, general manager of KINY and KSUP.
Gold Medal is an event in which players from villages strive with opponents as if the fate of the universe depended on each basket.
"I don't think he ever missed a Gold Medal," said Claude Roberts, chairman of the event for many years. "He was a wonderful announcer, knew all the players, and was really a historian for us."
State Rep. Al Kookesh met Pegues growing up in Angoon and during the basketball tournaments.
"He's a member of the Gold Medal Hall of Fame," Kookesh said. "We always worried he would fall off the balcony because he would get so excited. He never said 'No. 25.' He always knew the player's name."
"His enthusiasm for the game affected a lot of people. I liked him because he was so enthusiastic about living about everything," Kookesh said.
Terry Pegues was one of nine brothers, of whom five survive: Jim (in California), Don and Bob (Tenakee Springs) and Rodger and Dick (Juneau).
"We grew up in Juneau," said Don Pegues, 74. "Terry and I were born in a house on Distin Avenue behind the Governor's Mansion. Later we lived on Chicken Ridge and on Fifth Street at the foot of Starr Hill. So we were the Seventh Street Gang, the Starr Hill Gang."
As the brothers grew up, they worked in different parts of Alaska.
Terry's brother Bob, 64, co-proprietor with Don of Snyder Mercantile in Tenakee Springs, remembered the genesis of his sports career.
"In the late '40s and early '50s, my mom (Dorothy Pegues) had a newspaper called the Alaska Sunday Press. I got to deliver papers in the snow; life was harder then. But Terry was in high school and began writing about sports in a column called 'Through the Hoop,' " Bob Pegues said.
"Terry had a depth of feeling about everything he did. He had great enthusiasm and passion. He was true to his friends and family. He was true to himself, and he was true to what he believed," Bob Pegues said.
"From the time he was a small boy he epitomized fairness and justice," said his brother Rodger "Rod" Pegues, 68, a retired Superior Court judge. "I remember as a first-grader he got into a fist fight with another little boy because he caught that boy pulling wings off flies. As a fourth-grader (in 1941), he punched somebody in the nose the day after Pearl Harbor for calling one of our classmates 'a little Jap,' " Rod Pegues said.
"... He loathed hypocrisy and dishonesty. He loved truth, beauty and justice. He abhorred racism and fought against it all of his life," Rod Pegues said.
Ann Chandonnet can be reached at email@example.com.
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