Janet Ruth Ayaachiaq Koutchak was born in Nome, Alaska, on March 18, 1945, and was the oldest daughter of Jack and Ruth Koutchak. She went to be with the Lord on Oct. 27, 2016, in her home surrounded by her family, after a six-month battle with cancer. Janet graduated from Mt. Edgecumbe High School in 1964. She then left Alaska for Albuquerque, N.M., where she attended and graduated from the Indian School of Practical Nursing. After working as a nurse in Tanana, Anchorage and Unalakleet, Alaska, she was employed by the Division of Public Assistance and the Unalakleet Native Corporation. In 1990, she was hired by the Bering Strait School District and worked there until her retirement in 2010. Janet came to faith in Christ as a teenager and later became a member of Unalakleet Covenant Church. She enjoyed making quilts for the Sewing Circle auction, volunteering at Bible Camp as a cook in her retirement and worshiping with the Inupiaq choir. She loved to work on fish and other subsistence foods and always made sure it was done the right way. She loved to pick berries, and walked miles in search of bigger berries. Janet liked to listen to Singspiration music and go for drives with her grandchildren, who were her pride and joy. Janet was known for her love and care for family and her strong work ethic. She took care of her siblings, raised her daughters and played a huge role in raising her grandchildren. She cared for her mother, who also had cancer, and took care of her father, Jack, for 26 years as he aged. Janet is preceded in death by her grandparents, Edna Eakon, Benjamin Koutchak and Beda Adams; her parents, Jack and Ruth Koutchak; her sister, (first) Donna Koutchak; and her brother, Ted Koutchak. She is survived by her older brother, Don Koutchak Sr. (Dorothy); and her younger siblings, Adeline Toothaker (John), Jack Jr., Ben Eakon (Leila), Bill, Darrold, Donna Dinnocenzo (Joe), Colleen McConnell (Dan) and Helena Hildreth (Grant); her cousin, Danny Chamble Adams; her aunts, Anita Grant, Evelyn Rynearson and Hannah Kooduq Takak; her daughters, Patti Huhta (Reese) and Annette Erickson (Ryder); her grandchildren, Nikki Bruckner (Nick), Jenny, Hunter and Fisher Dill and Mariska, Solveigh and Murdock Erickson; and great-grandchildren, Jack and Sarah Bruckner. We will miss mom a lot, but we know she is no longer suffering and in a better place. We have the comfort of knowing we will see her again someday. Peace to her memory.
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Published in Alaska Dispatch News on Nov. 5, 2016