Our beloved Chief Petty Officer Rocky L. James was born May 9, 1958. On Jan. 3, 2021, he peacefully went home to be with the Lord.
Rocky was born to Jessie "Jinga" James. He was raised by his loving grandparents, Arthur James Sr. and Annie James, in Fort Yukon, Alaska.
Rocky grew up in Fort Yukon living a traditional subsistence lifestyle. He graduated from high school in 1976 then enlisted in the Navy on May 13, 1977. During his time in the Navy, Rocky traveled the world. He was honorably discharged in July 1998 with high honors and received many awards, including the Surface Warfare pin, Navy Good Conduct Medal (five times), Combat Liberation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, NATO Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Sea Service Ribbon (three times), Coast Guard Special Service Ribbon, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Navy "E" Ribbon (twice), and had 21 years of service on the USS Kitty Hawk.
Rocky spent his summer months at his fish camp down the Yukon River where he preferred living the subsistence lifestyle. He enjoyed being a mentor, teaching others how to live in the traditional way, using his Gwich'in language skills, and he loved living off the land. He was the veterans coordinator in Fort Yukon, and he always made sure veterans were acknowledged on relevant gatherings and holidays.
In 2017, he escorted 90 year old elder Thomas Knudson to Washington, D.C., for the Honor Flight Network Memorial. Rocky was always volunteering his time at KZPA, the local radio station, where he was a DJ. He is remembered for serving the community as the city manager, GZGTG executive director, and as the food service coordinator for the Yukon Flats School District.
He is survived by his children, Sasha (Kevin), Aaron, Kyle and Kennedi Jade; his sisters, Teresa (Harold) Frost, Philene, Sharon and Nancy; sister-in-law, Gladys; brothers, Dwayne (Candice), Skully, Terry and Art (Freda); his granddaughter, Dakota, and grandson, Isaac; goddaughter, Shannon Hardy; godson, Stanton Jones; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends throughout the Yukon Flats, the U.S. and Canada.
He is preceded in death by his son, Matthew John James; his mothers, Jinga and Annie, and his father, Arthur James Sr.; his sisters, Pamela, Patsy, Delma, Artha, Louise, Hannah and Dorothy (Bill) Vesper; and brothers, David James and Roland James, Sr. (Vera).
Published in Daily News-Miner on Jan. 12, 2021.