Wayne Gene Charlie, 60, of Nenana, departed this life April 22, 2012, at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, after being injured in a tragic fire April 14, 2012, in Minto.
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He was born to Eli and Winnie Charlie July 17, 1951, and lived in Nenana for most of his life, attending Nenana Public School. He was a very cool guy, very comical, with a smile on his face all the time and a toothpick sticking out of his mouth.
Wayne was a seasonal firefighter and squad boss fighting fires all over Alaska and the Lower 48. He also raised dogs from an early age going back and forth between Nenana and Minto. He ran a lot of sled dog races in Nenana and Minto and won a lot of red lanterns in his life.
Wayne was always singing regardless of whether music was playing. When he was cooking for his dogs they were an attentive audience, sitting on their houses waiting for their dinner, listening to their master sing the Rolling Stones' "You Can Start Me Up" at the top of his lungs.
He lived a traditional Athabascan lifestyle, hunting geese every spring, moose every fall and fishing with a fishnet to catch fish for all the village elders.
Wayne was preceded in death by his parents; his sister Millie Gigliotti; and his companion Mary Ann Frank.
Wayne is survived by his sister, Clare Charlie of Las Vegas; brother and sister-in-law, Donald and Ginger Charlie of Nenana; brother-in-law, Jiggs Gigliotti of Las Vegas; sisters, Bonnie James of Anchorage, Wanda Charlie and Will Fairbanks of Nenana, Jeri Knabe of Fairbanks, Mary King of Anchorage; and brother Brian Charlie of Nenana.
He was an awesome uncle and loved his nieces and nephews, Jo Ellen Noble, Brandon Knabe, Crystal Jade, Karlisa Charlie, Casea James, Dustin Harrison, Kory Knabe, Hayley Harrison, Brian and Sharlie James, Sean, Tyler and Devyn King, Kaden, Kamron and Lilly Knabe, and Bonnie Lou Escalante.
He had many friends in Nenana, and many friends, loving relatives, and adopted kids and grandkids in Minto.
Wayne may be gone from our sight but not from our thoughts and prayers. He will live on with all of us who knew and loved him, and we will all remember him with a smile on our faces, because everyone had a comical story to tell about him.
A funeral service is planned for 1 p.m. Monday, April 30, 2012, at the Tribal Hall in Nenana. He will be laid to rest at the Nenana Native Cemetery. A potlatch will be held at 6 p.m. at the Tribal Hall.
Funeral arrangements made by Fairbanks Funeral Home.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Apr. 28, 2012