Dorothy Blanche Dennis — Tuwaaxhsée (1929 - 2012)

  • "I miss and love u soo much. I wish I could have told you..."
    - andrea parent
  • "May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow."
  • "Condolences and prayers to loved ones at this time."
    - Sharon Marvin
  • "In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you..."
    - Suzi Rogers (Dennis)
  • "I love you, Dorothy. Until we meet again...."
    - Cindy Rader

Dorothy Blanche Dennis - Tuwaaxhsée
July 17, 1929 – October 21, 2012
The matriarch of the Skagway Native community has walked into the forest after a short battle with cancer.
Gran was a beloved mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and was surrounded by loving family in the home of her son when she made the journey to join her husband Si and sons Allen and Bert. She was Double-Eagle Kaigani Haida and a member of the Lukaaxh.ádi (Sockeye-Raven) clan of the Jilkhóot Tlingit, whose traditional territory spans from Chilkoot Lake to the
Chilkoot Trail, including the areas we call Shghagwéi (Roughed Up Water) and Deiyáa (Pack Trail).
Dorothy was born in Waterfall, Alaska to Ruth Cogo of Hydaburg. She attended Sheldon Jackson High School, and came to Skagway in 1946 with three other Haida women to work in the Tuberculosis Sanatorium on the north end of town. While working here, she met her husband's family. She broke through racial barriers when she frst moved to Skagway by refusing to move to the "Native" section at the back of a theatre when asked. Two Tlingit elders walked by, and she insisted they join her in the good section; they turned out to be the parents of her future husband.
She was a Deacon at the Presbyterian Church, where she sang in the choir, and served as a Tribal Council Member of the Skagway Traditional Council. She worked in the Days of 98 show when it was a local volunteer production, was a bowler, and was also a housekeeper at the Golden North Hotel for many years.
Those who knew her called her Gran, because she transcended her family and clan connections and became a mother and grandmother to countless members of the Skagway community. Her kindness and generosity led to many children calling her little house on Fourth and Alaska "home." Her children have continued this legacy, showing unbounded kindness and shelter, especially to young people in need of love, time, and dedication.
She was preceded in death by her husband Gooshdehéen Silas Ronald Dennis, sons Allen Wayne Dennis & Bertram Charles Dennis, mother Ruth Cogo, brother Harlan Jorgenson (Jelly Boy), and cousins Donald Anniskett (Gidáahls) & Clara Peratrovich. She is survived by her children Si, Marion, Patty, Debbie, Leslie, and Sharon, as well as 21 grandchildren and 28 great grandchildren. Her surviving siblings are Pauline Krantz, Kathleen Jorgenson, Marlene Young, and Arlene Gaspard.
Gran began her fnal journey with Haida and Tlingit songs. Locals who were endeared by her showed their love in recent visits to the family by saying, "we're all orphans now" and "she was a gift to the world." The family is immensely appreciative of the support shown by the Skagway community, her Haida and Tlingit families, and by those who were touched by her life who are seemingly in all parts of the world.
She rarely left town, except to travel to Whitehorse, which ended when strict international laws required a birth certifcate-which she never had-to enter Canada. Still, she was known in places far and wide because of her kindness and generosity. One of her relatives said, "she knew more people than the census taker." Our days are ever brighter because we had her, and even though we have fallen apart at her departure, we have tremendous strength and resilience that we inherited from her.
Services for Dorothy Dennis were held on Saturday at 2pm at the Skagway Presbyterian Church, followed by a Graveside Service, and then a Reception at the Fellowship Hall.
Published in The Juneau Empire from Oct. 28 to Nov. 27, 2012
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