Two local residents honored for their work on human rights

Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2001

The late Terry Pegues and high school health teacher Nancy Seamount were honored by the Juneau Human Rights Commission at its fourth annual awards event.

The ceremony was held Sunday in the Goldbelt Hotel, said Jane Andreen, chairman of the seven-member committee that selected the awards recipients.

Pegues, who was nominated by the Sealaska Heritage Foundation, was the first person the committee has honored posthumously, Andreen said. After hearing testimony about how Pegues had "committed his entire life to working against racism," Andreen regretted she had not known him.

Pegues was known as an announcer for the Gold Medal basketball tournament, and he worked in manpower training and personnel for the Tlingit-Haida Central Council, Sealaska Corp., and the state Department of Labor.

Terry Pegues' widow, June Pegues, accepted the award, saying, "Terry turned 70 on Sept. 1 and left us three days later on Sept. 4 much too soon because he had enough plans to carry him into another 70 years. He never quit dreaming of ways to help people."

Pegues said she felt very humble accepting the award, but did so on behalf of the couple's children and grandchildren as well as all their "dear friends."

"In spite of his illness, I couldn't stop him helping people out wherever he could, because it was something he enjoyed so much," she said.

A teacher at Juneau-Douglas High School since 1989, Nancy Seamount was nominated by Derek Peterson of the Alaska Association of School Boards, Andreen said.

"Nancy is very much a mover and shaker. The award was for the work she has done with students regarding cultural differences and character development and for her natural enthusiasm," she said.

Seamount is recognized in the education community for her creative ways of engaging students in dialogues about subjects such as discrimination, adoption and teen pregnancy. She was somewhat abashed to hear about the commission's award, she said on Monday.

"I heard about it at the community garage sale where I was standing glumly out front thinking how I had failed in my social responsibilities," Seamount said with a chuckle. "I was examining my conscience.

"But then when I got over the initial 'I am not worthy' (reaction), I decided I was really excited because it gave me another forum to promote my causes," Seamount added.

Her causes at present include improving the climate at JDHS, character education and helping disenfranchised students such as Native students, gay and lesbian students and students who are economically disadvantaged.

"One of my agendas is that teen-agers need to be welcomed into the bosom of the adult community. We exclude kids by glaring at them when they walk into stores, thinking they might be shoplifting, but we need to send a message of inclusion as well as high expectations of character," she said.


Ann Chandonnet can be reached at

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