Agnes Marianne (Hansen) Simmons, Alaska pioneer and lifelong Fairbanks resident, died Feb. 1, 2013, at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, following a short illness. She was 89 and living on the Chena River land that she and her husband homesteaded in the early 1950s. |
Agnes was born Oct. 10, 1923, in Fairbanks, to Hilda (Lahti) and Ingvald Hansen, immigrants from Scandinavia who came to Alaska in 1905. The family lived in the mining town of Olnes on the Elliott Highway where her parents mined for gold and worked in the camps.
Agnes began her education in the small Olnes School and later graduated from Old Main School in Fairbanks. As a teenager, Agnes worked at the Paxson Lake Lodge where she met her husband, Charles A. Simmons, when he stopped to help her change a flat tire. Agnes and Charlie married later that year at the Livengood liquor store.
They raised three children while spending summers clearing and building a homestead on the Chena River off Badger Road during the early 1950s. She remained on the homestead until her death.
Agnes was a frugal, hardworking and fun-loving, sassy woman. She was known for the strong, robust wines brewed in her kitchen from berries, rhubarb, dandelions and chickweed. She grew a large garden and beautiful flowers; she made soap, picked berries, preserved food, and built the rock wall and fireplace in her home - all in true homesteader fashion.
She had an artistic eye and was a skilled painter. She loved collecting rocks, Alaskan artifacts and stray animals that needed help - once rescuing a muskrat that lived in her bath tub and an owl that revived to fly around her living room.
As an adult, Agnes became a Jehovah Witness and was sustained by her faith and the friendships that she found within the congregation.
Agnes is survived by her two sons and daughters-in-law, Avery and Edwina Simmons, of Pelican; and Charles Simmons and Sheree Dohner, of Fairbanks.
She also is survived by her good friend and soulmate, Lou Andreis, who shared many hours with Agnes, painting, taking Finish saunas and enjoying many common interests.
Agnes has 13 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 67 years, Charles A. Simmons; her daughter, Kerry (Nunley); and her brother, Arnold Hansen.
The family would like to thank Lou Andreis, of the Jehovah's Witness community; neighbor David St. Laurent; and the physicians and staff at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital for their help and support.
A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, in the Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall at the intersection of Badger and Bradway roads. There will be a "get-together" following the service at the home of John and Donna Fountain, 1852 Badger Road.
Arrangements were entrusted to Chapel of Chimes Funeral Home.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Feb. 7, 2013