Despite grief, Hoonah treated me as an honored guest

Posted: Friday, September 10, 2010

As I watch the memorial service for Matthew Tokuoka and Anthony Wallace, my feelings of gratitude towards this warm and welcoming town are intensely reinforced.

A mere three days after this horrific tragedy, I suffered a long, backwards tumble near Point Adolphus, and sliced and battered my head and body. My wounds, though bloody and gruesome, proved to be merely superficial, though several stitches were required and I looked like a Minnesota Vikings uniform.

But the entire community of Hoonah, instead of treating me as a trivial disturbance in its time of grief, embraced me as an honored guest. There are several individuals, though, that I want to highlight.

"Old" Bob, skipper of the Jesse Marie from Sitka, responded to our distress signal and taxied me from Point Adolphus to Hoonah, even though he was initially headed west out of Icy Strait, and remained on call, even offering a bunk, without accepting a penny, not even breakfast.

The trooper on loan from Sitka to help fill the public safety void drove me to the clinic at 10:30 p.m. and escorted me to Icy Straits Lodge at 3 a.m.

Lisa at the clinic not only cleaned and stitched me, but made me believe that I was not a distracting nuisance, but instead a symbol of life and renewal. She provided me with names for potential shuttle boats to rescue my companion, kayaks, and gear, and also acted as a travel agent, securing my room at Icy Strait, and ensuring that someone would be available with a key, even though her medicinal efforts stretched into the early morning.

The staff at Icy Straits not only waited up to provide me with lodging, but allowed me to delay check out until 5 p.m. the next day as we waited for the ferry to Juneau. Arlen responded to my call at 7 a.m., and not only provided the name and number of a charter, but introduced himself to me at Misty Bay, recognizing me by my bandages. Ryan was on the water by 8 a.m. and returned by 9:30 a.m., even aiding in loading the boats and gear into the car.

These are just a few of the specific members of an entire community that made me feel not as a stranger or outsider, but as a new member that offered an opportunity to whom they could provide comfort in their own time of grief. Thank you Hoonah. I will remember you always and I am so sorry for your loss.

Jim Chumbley

Fairbanks



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