Nell Grace Peltier Savikko passed away at the age of 88 in her home in Douglas, Alaska on September 8, 2013.
Nell was born in St. Martinville, Louisiana to an Acadian family that had emigrated from France to Canada before settling in Louisiana. Her father, Willy, and her mother, Catherine Boudreaux Peltier, had 6 children with Nell as the youngest. She grew up speaking Cajun French, learning English as a young girl in school.
Nell met her future husband, Bernhart (Ben) Savikko of Douglas, Alaska as long distance pen pals. The relationship grew, they fell in love, and before long Ben knocked on her Louisiana door. The two were married on April 9, 1949, and remained deeply committed to one another for the next 61 years until Ben passed away in 2010.
Together Ben and Nell raised five children, spending time picnicking, boating, fishing, berry picking and travelling between Alaska and Louisiana to visit family while making new friends along the way.
In 1954, Nell invited her first cousin, Geraldine Boudreaux to travel with the family back to Douglas from Louisiana, promising her safe return. Instead, Geraldine met and married Ben's brother, Robert, and the two women remained dear to each other throughout their lives. Their families shared a close bond that remains today.
Nell was a wonderful mother, grandmother, aunt, and friend. She loved to sew, read, cook, paint, and garden. Nell loved children, especially babies. She sat for many Douglas families and volunteered at Gastineau Elementary School when her children were young. She spent her life working side by side with Ben, and helped to rebuild their family home in Douglas after a house fire in 1970. She cheered everyone she knew with her sense of humor, keen wit, easy laugh, and was a steadfast friend to many.
Nell is survived by her children and their spouses, daughter, Michele (Larry) Bilyeu of Salem OR, and sons, Douglas (Rebecca) Savikko of Eagle River, Herman (Paula) Savikko and Kurt (Holly) Savikko of Douglas, and Rick (Shelley) Savikko of Juneau. Ben and Nell had 13 grandchildren, 9 great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
She is also survived by her beloved cousin and sister-in-law, Geraldine (Boudreaux) Savikko Straty of Tee Harbor, and her three children (Albert, Bern and Coreen) with Robert Savikko (deceased) of Douglas.
Nell will live forever in our hearts.
Published in The Juneau Empire on Oct. 5, 2013