Former Fairbanks resident Charles Vincent "Charlie" Lucier, 86, died peacefully surrounded by family and friends on Feb. 28, 2013, at his home in Springfield, Ore.
Charlie was born in Clay Center, Kan., to Juanita and Frederick Lucier, on Nov. 20, 1926. He moved to Anchorage in 1942, at age 15. He graduated from Anchorage High School and studied at the University of Alaska Fairbanks from 1943-1945 and 1947-1949.
Lucier was drafted in 1945, and stationed at Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage. After his service tour, he resumed his studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and received a Bachelor of Arts in biology in 1949.
He was an apprentice of Otto Wm. Geis, in his pleistocene faunal collections. In 1949, Ivar Skarland and J.L Giddings Jr. selected Lucier to assist Helge Larsen in an archeological survey on the Seward Peninsula from 1950-1952. He did a field study of the culture of the Noatak Eskimos, collecting traditional Inupiat spoken knowledge, tape recorded music and handiwork. He taught in schools in Karluk and Talkeetna from 1952-1955, and worked as a technician in small mammal studies from 1955-1956.
Along with wife, Grace, and two young children, Lucier returned to Anchorage in 1959, and worked, from 1963-1979, as a game biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, specializing in caribou. He was a member of Cook Inlet Native Association and founding member, traditional drummer and singer of the Urban Natives United, a traditional Inupiaq and Yup'ik dance group, from1965-1975. Through the 1960s, and until 1978, Lucier continued ethnographic studies of Inupiat of the Seward Peninsula, Norton Sound and Kotzebue Sound regions.
During this time, he authored and co-authored numerous ethnographic publications. A renaissance man, Charlie was an avid gardener, life-long student, social activitist, published author, poet and self-taught artist. His art was whimsical and childlike.
His family wrote: "Even though Charlie endured numerous health issues throughout his life, he remained optimistic, always with a sense of wit and humor, and lived life to the fullest extent. He taught his children an appreciation of and their place in the natural world, pride in their Inupiat heritage, and perseverance over the human condition and physical and emotional adversity."
Charlie is survived by his daughter, Panu Lucier (Mark); and son, Paul Lucier; grandchildren, Lori Gage (Dustin), Melissa Walls, Matthew Walls, Alyson Tuomi (Justin) and Travis Lucier; great-grandchildren, Nicholas, Hannah, Zachary, Evan, Eli, Jackson, and Abbe; and his dedicated caregiver, Eunice Webb.