Van Oren Chaney (1931 - 2015)

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Van was born on October 10th, 1931 in the country home of Ray and Mildred Chaney in Bloomville, Ohio. (A home not yet plumbed with running water nor wired with electricity.) He departed his earthly life on July 30th in the Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage. As a youth he earned money by picking out nut meats for baking, delivering political posters (for both Political Parties), mowing lawns, shoveling snow, plowing fields with horse teams, throwing bales of hay, and planting and harvesting crops. Following his graduation in May of 1949 he enlisted in the Army Air Corp for four years. During those years he served as a mechanic on the planes that were involved in the atomic tests on the Bikini Atoll.
In 1954 he returned to Bloomville by train. Six months later, on December 19 Van and Alice were married.Van decided to become an elementary teacher. He enrolled in Heidelberg College, using the GI Bill. He worked part-time to pay for college by being a School Bus Driver, a Coach, an Ohio Highway worker, a laborer in a limestone quarry - a steel foundry - a commercial dairy, a barn painter and a holiday Mail Man delivering mail by foot. During this time their first two children, Rebecca and David were born.
Van taught in Bloomville, Republic and Tiffin, Ohio. After graduating from college in June of 1959 he and his family flew to Alaska to fulfill their dream of becoming teachers in bush Alaska. They taught in Old Harbor, Ouzinkie (where they experienced the 1964 earth quake and tidal wave), Egegik and Manokotak. In these early Alaskan years daughters Mary Ann and Melissa were born. He loved working in Bush Alaska. As the Principal Teacher he was the mechanic, plumber, electrician, you name it. In Manokotak he and his wife enjoyed teaching adult education classes. The family enjoyed riding in the Eskimo dog sled that he pulled with his "snow go."Several summers he did commercial fishing around Kodiak Island and in Bristol Bay.
In 1974 Van's teaching career continued on US Naval Station Adak Island. He and Alice loved the luxuries of this "large" city. He joined many clubs and attended the multi-denominational Chapel. In May of 1983 both of the Chaneys retired to Anchorage and started yet another life adventure.
In "retirement", Van worked for 16 years as the Office Manager for his daughter Rebecca's ReLy Tax Service. He served on various Committees in the First United Methodist Church one of which was unofficial – always welcoming the worshipers as they entered the Narthex or the Sanctuary with a warm handshake for the men, a hug for the women and a large smile for all. He was an usher for "Ushering in the Arts".
Van was a member of Masons, Shrine, Scottish Rite, and Eastern Star.
Van and Alice loved traveling the world with their family. They enjoyed visiting son David in California or having him visit the rest of the family in Anchorage.
Van loved life, adored his family and embraced people without any prejudices. He performed random acts of kindness like snow blowing neighbors driveways, visiting folks no longer able to leave their homes or patients in the hospitals, or running errands for the homebound. He helped with any job without being asked and never expected a thank you. He never met a stranger and he made everyone feel special. One friend said, "Van loved well, and he was well loved." Upon learning of his passing a former 6th grade student wrote, "Mr. Chaney was a big man with a big voice but we always knew he loved us."
Van is survived by the love of his life, Alice, with whom he shared a marriage of over 60 years and his children Rebecca Chaney-Riggins, David, Mary Ann and Melissa and his sister Ann (Harold) Kelbley and brother Ralph (Deborah) Chaney and sister-in – law Eileen Chaney and 5 nieces and 3 nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Bill, Jack and Dean (who died in a Prisoner of War camp in the Korean War), his son-in-law Lyle Riggins and his dearly loved dogs Stubby, Dottie, Mookie, Sparky and Barney.
Memorial donations may be made to "Friends of Pets", P.O.Box 24098, Anchorage or Al Aska Shrine Children's Travel Fund, 1930 E Northern Lights Blvd., Anchorage 99508.
His service will be held on Saturday, September 12th, at 2 PM at the First United Methodist Church, 725 W 9thAve. (with parking behind the Church). Pastor Steve Fisher will officiate. A reception will follow.

Published as a memorial advertisement in the Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015, edition of Alaska Dispatch News.
Published in Anchorage Daily News from Sept. 9 to Oct. 7, 2015
bullet Korean War bullet U.S. Army