Isaac Juneby, a devoted husband, loving father, brother and uncle, passed away July 1, 2012, in Anchorage, at 71.|
He was a former chief of Eagle Village, respected leader, wise elder and Renaissance man who was held in high regard by people throughout Alaska.
Juneby was born to Willie and Louise Juneby in Eagle Village, on July 9, 1941.
Isaac was raised in the mountains and valleys surrounding the Eagle/Upper Yukon area. He often shared memories of his father Willie loading up Isaac and several of his siblings in the toboggan and making the move out to trapline for the winter. Isaac was raised a traditional Han Gwich'in way, which influenced his decisions, lifestyle, career and was an excellent example of maintaining a balance between his culture and today's world.
Isaac learned English when he began attending Wrangell Institute boarding school, where he excelled academically. Upon graduating, Isaac enrolled in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany. When Isaac returned home to Eagle Village, he was elected chief, making him the youngest chief ever elected.
The only thing Isaac ever stole was the heart of Sandra Leider, who he married May 19, 1979. Together they raised four children together, Eddie, Margie, Lisa and Skye.
Isaac was a huge proponent of sobriety having been sober for more than 25 years, saying, "It was God who freed me from alcohol." Upon his newfound sobriety, he started working on a college diploma. He first attended Sitting Bull College where he lived on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, making many friends there as well. Isaac later graduated with a bachelor's degree in rural development from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1987.
Throughout the years Isaac worked as a wildland firefighter, and at Alyeska Pipeline, Doyon Limited, Tanana Chiefs Conference, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency and Eagle Village Council. Isaac's expertise was in land management and he used his expertise to help advance Native people in the Lower 48 and Alaska.
Also known as "Senator" by his family, everywhere Isaac went, he knew someone, shook hands and took the time to have a conversation and laugh with everyone.
Isaac best-known quality was his ability to connect with people. He was active in village tribal matters, subsistence issues, hunting and fishing rights and management, and was an environmentalist. Isaac was a published author, having written books and recorded language lessons on the Han Gwich'in language for children and college students. He also won a national poetry contest with a poem he wrote about the Yukon River.
Isaac was passionate about a lot of things, including politics and was a proud Democrat. He enjoyed carving diamond willow, hunting, visiting with family and friends, taking cruises, was an avid baseball fan and devoted fan of the Nanooks basketball team, proving his loyalty by being one of a handful of Nanooks basketball fans who attended a game when it was 55 below.
Isaac really enjoyed being on the Yukon River. It was just last year Isaac harvested two caribou with his younger brother, Ben.
Isaac was preceded in death by his parents, Willie and Louise Juneby; sisters MaryAnn Stevens, Sara Beiderman and Margaret Carol; brothers Charley Juneby, Johnnie Juneby, Archie Juneby and John Juneby; and daughter Lisa.
He is survived by his wife, Sandra Juneby of Eagle; daughters Margie Stone of Chicago and Skye Juneby of San Francisco; sisters Adeline (Mike) Juneby Potts of Tower, Minn., and Ellen Rada of Fairbanks; brother Ben Juneby of Eagle; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A fundraiser will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, July 9, 2012, at the Chief David Salmon Tribal Hall in Fairbanks to assist the family. A memorial service will follow with visitation at 3 p.m. and a service at 4 p.m., followed by a covered dish.
A funeral in Eagle will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, 2012, at St. Peter's Episcopal Church with burial to follow at the Eagle Village cemetery. A potlatch will be held at 6 p.m. at the Eagle Village School.
Published in Daily News-Miner on July 8, 2012