Penny Wakefield
1940 - 2020
{ "" }
Share
Share Penny's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Dannetta "Penny" Wakefield died peacefully at home on Aug. 16 from ovarian cancer. She was born Feb. 7, 1940, in Lemmon, South Dakota, to Berlyn and Agnes (Frisvold) Wakefield. She graduated In 1958 from Faulkton High School in Faulkton, South Dakota and in 1962 from South Dakota State College. She attained a degree in physical therapy at the University of Iowa in 1964. For two years, Penny worked at Younkers Rehabilitation Center in Des Moines, Iowa.
In 1966, Penny went to Yellowstone National Park to work with students from Rexburg, Idaho in melodrama theatre. She returned to Iowa to set up a physical therapy department at the local medical center in Harlan. She then worked for the Americana Rehabilitation Center setting up centers in midwestern states. She headed west to Sun Valley, Idaho to work in the skiing industry and later traveled to Santa Cruz, California, to work in a physical therapy private practice.
In 1973, she came to Alaska and met the love of her life, Kenneth Alt. She set up the physical therapy department at Fairbanks Medical and Dental Arts and also worked as a relief therapist in Fairbanks. She retired in 1987.
At the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in 1975, Penny took weaving classes and joined the Fairbanks Weavers' and Spinners' Guild as well as the Fairbanks Arts Association. She and other artisans formed the Fiber Cooperative at Alaskaland that operated from 1978 until the early 1990s. She then helped form the Interior Artisans annual gift show and sale which ran until 1998. She taught weaving at UAF for students and community hobby weavers from 2000 until the present.
In 1990, Penny was involved in creating a summer fiber art program for youth which is still in existence. This program through the Fairbanks Weavers' and Spinners' Guild influenced the lives of over 6,000 young people through the teaching of arts and crafts. She has also exhibited her fiber artwork at art venues throughout Alaska and in other parts of the country for the past 30 years.
Penny began teaching duplicate bridge in 1996 for the Farthest North Bridge Club and was an active bridge player at the Fairbanks Senior Center.
Penny was preceded in death by her parents, Berlyn and Agnes Wakefield, and sister-in-law, Sylvia Wakefield. She is survived by her husband, Kenneth T. Alt; brothers, Rod Wakefield (partner Joan), Pierre Wakefield (Kathryn) and Randy Wakefield (Janet); nephew, Daniel Wakefield (Nancy) and children, Charlie, Liam and Hallie; and niece, Angela Cerny (Craig) and children, Sylvia and Elana.
Weaving was Penny's love. She has requested that people support the arts (Fairbanks Arts Association) and enjoy outdoor Alaska.
Online condolences may be made to the family at Blanchardfamilyfuneralhome.com.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Aug. 23, 2020.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Blanchard Family Funeral Home
Not sure what to say?
View Printed Guest Book
34 entries
October 6, 2020
Penny made an indelible mark on my life. She taught me to weave and then taught my children fiber arts, and with it taught patience, bringing always a smile, encouragement, laughter. Such a brilliant woman full of love of life, I am grateful to have known her.
Nene Webb
Friend
September 15, 2020
I met Penny when I worked at the Fairbanks Arts Association--she was a dynamic whirlwind with lots of creative ideas! I'm sorry for your loss, but hope that you have many good memories to cherish.
Beth Grassi
Acquaintance
September 9, 2020
Penny brought sunshine to the soul!
Liz Peltola
Friend
September 4, 2020
Mesa 2013
Penny was an amazing aunt who always treated me like one of her own. I will cherish the times we spent together in Alaska in 2007 and 2012, as well as many fun times in Arizona. She was an amazingly talented artist in so many different medias. I will miss her dearly as i know all who had the pleasure of knowing her will as well.
Ryan Alt
Friend
September 4, 2020
We have all been blessed in being able to have had time with Penny. Her energy, enthusiasm, teaching, sharing, love of life touched us. Oh if I could have one tenth of her wisdom, compassion, and zeal. Ken, she spoke with love when she talked about you. A twinkle in her eyes and a smile on her face. She enjoyed life and lead by example. It was a privilege being taught by her and have the opportunity to hear her stories. Thank you for sharing her with us all. Hope to see you at Quartz Lake. And as I told her the last time I saw her, see you this side or that side of heaven. My the blessing of grace and peace be upon you and all who Penny loved.
Vel Wager
Friend
September 1, 2020
Penny lit up a room! Her energy was insurmountable and her enthusiasm, contagious. She was a member of my Arizona fiber arts guild where she spent time during the winter. A skilled weaver and teacher; she was generous in sharing her knowledge and encouraging others. I will miss her. The world seems a bit darker with her passing.
Maureen McCarthy
Friend
August 27, 2020
Penny was one of the most encouraging and enthusiastic people that I’ve ever known. We met through fiber arts, and I always looked forward to her visits to Mesa, AZ. She was an eager member of the Telaraña Weavers and Spinners Guild, where she generously shared her expertise and creative joy. We will miss her spark and laughter so very much.
To Ken, and the Wakefield family, you have our deep condolences.
Nancy Wanek
Friend
August 25, 2020
What a dynamo! Penny will be sorely missed.
Gail Davidson
Friend
August 25, 2020
I met Penny in 1975 or ’76. She was a force of nature, an active visualizer. If it could be imagined, its reality was nearby, often hidden in a pile of wool. Brainstorming, spinning ideas and options was second nature. Penny Wakefield was a template for the engaged artist, teacher, and life-long learner.
Douglas Yates
August 25, 2020
We offer our condolences to the Ault/Wakefield families for the loss of Penny. She was one who wove herself into the fabric of Fairbanks, Alaska with enthusiasm...always ready for an enlightening conversation. The youth of Fairbanks have suffered a great loss as have we all.
Barbara and Ronan Short
Friend
August 25, 2020
Ken So sorry to hear about your loss. Penny had enthusiasm and put so much energy in all she did.
Betty Borjesson
Friend
August 25, 2020
Penny was a creative dynamo and the glue that held together so much of what we value in our community. I will miss her!
Our condolences to Ken and family as well as her weaving, arts, and bridge "families".

Gretchen Murphy
Friend
August 25, 2020
So sad to learn of your family’s loss of Penny, a genuine force of nature!!! Her influence was broad and she definitely left this world a better place!
Barb Van Ness Grey
Friend
August 25, 2020
Penny truly enriched my life in Fairbanks over the years. Being engulfed by her spirit, looking into her face, and listening to her and laughing with her, are seared into my brain, and always lifted me. And her scarves, salmon-skin creations, weavings, and flair in dress will be remembered. Sad it was the “silent killer” that took my mother, too.
Nancy Webb
Friend
August 24, 2020
People like Penny are hard to find. Her Freesol is rare, but you know it when you see it. Basically, because you feel good when you are near. Thinking of you during this difficult time
Julie Sowards, Snogoose Fibers
Friend
August 24, 2020
To penny’s family I am sorry for your loss. Every time I went to pick up my mom from bridge. Penny would ask me when I was going to retire and come play. She always had a smile for everyone. Heidi’s family
Heidi gabriel
Acquaintance
August 24, 2020
Penny was a positive encouraging person who added sparkle to our lives.
Dr George Brown and Marcia Brown
Friend
August 24, 2020
Dear Ken and family Wakefield, I am so sorry to hear this sad news. Penny was one of the Interior's most animated, vivacious and engaged artists, notably in the fibre arts. I know her to be an arts educator, arts advocate and friend. I've had the pleasure of knowing and working with her since the mid-1980's. We sat on the Fairbanks Arts Association Visual Art Committee for several years. Her passion and enthusiasm for the arts in our community was contagious. We have lost a such a positive force in our town. She made Alaska a better place. Thank you, Penny. My deepest condolences to her family. She is missed.
Todd Sherman
Friend
August 24, 2020
My favorite memory of Penny was at a wooden racquet tennis tournament. She was dressed in a beautiful white vintage tennis dress and hat. She moved with grace and speed that day!
Mary Ritchie
August 24, 2020
We loved Penny’s exuberance for life. She was always fun to talk to and hear what she was up to. So creative and talented!
Janie Feist
Friend
August 24, 2020
I only met Penny a few times but she was an absolute delight. My sincere condolences to Penny's friends and family; her kindness, passion for weaving, and sense of humor really left an impression on me. I'm so sorry I won't get to see her again.
Jeannette Okinczyc
Acquaintance
August 24, 2020
We were so sorry to hear of the passing of Your wife and sister Penny. Growing up in a small town with her, can always remember how friendly she was to all us under class people. She still looked as pretty as I remember..prayers of comfort.. Dan and Barb Duncan
Dan and Barb Duncan
Friend
August 24, 2020
⁃I am so sorry about Penny’s passing. She was a truly incredible woman who had such an amazing effect on everyone who knew her. I can’t imagine how difficult this is for you, Ken.
⁃Penny was known for her friendliness and influential nature and could talk to literally anyone about anything. With this capability Penny was the glue that held our bridge club together. Her devolution to teaching and encouraging bridge was astounding. We loved Penny for her creative, impulsive, sensitive and visionary nature. Her uniqueness was refreshing and fun. Her energy was envied. Her warmth and generosity made us all better people and we consider ourselves lucky to have known her. She will be miss terribly.
⁃Please accept our sincerest condolences, Sincerely, Marion Woods



Marion Woods
Friend
August 24, 2020
Deepest condolences to Penny's family. I still have beautiful woven treasures my daughter made in her wonderful classes more than 25 years ago. Over the years I enjoyed our conversations when we bumped into each other--at the weaver's guild booth at the fair, in the grocery story. She was so positive and creative and a gift to this community.
Karen Clautice
August 24, 2020
Penny remains close to heart in the O'Donoghue-Ripley household. Our kids loved her weaving classes. Picking them up was never a chore, I loved the chance to catch up on Penny's latest endeavors. She first touched my life out of the blue in 1991, when she read about how I'd been badly frostbitten mushing the Two-Rivers Tune Up, and showed out of the blue with a fur mask that enabled me to continue training for iditarod with a face swollen like a balloon.
Kate and my children, Rory, 23, Robin, 22, and Rachel 16, all benefit to this day from Penny's cheerful encouragement to plunge ahead and create your own magic with whatever materials are on hand!
Brian Patrick O'Donoghue
Acquaintance
August 23, 2020
I was surprised to hear of Penny's passing. My thoughts and prayers are with the family. Penny was a special spirit touching many people. She will be missed by all.
Mary Lou Cady
Friend
August 23, 2020
Dear Ken, I am so sorry to hear about Penny. If there is anything I can do for you, please do not hesitate to call me. May the love and support of your friends and family carry you through this very difficult time. You have all my sympathy.
Nancy Williams
August 23, 2020
Penny has been a weaver of more than yarn. Her smile and hello always reminded me that she and I were woven together in the broad fabric of connections that make up our community. There is a little unraveling of that fabric now without her here, but she would want us to go on, knit it up, and do good for the arts and for our community. I will miss her.
Cindy Hardy
Acquaintance
August 23, 2020
Penny was a dear friend, colleague and weaving companion for many years and I will miss her greatly. Her contributions to the Arts in Fairbanks, craft education and the weaving community in particular are profound and will be long remembered. She will also be remembered for her brilliant mind, flare for fashion, generosity of spirit and signature hats. I am so grateful for her support, advice and friendship over the years. She has influenced and enriched my life in more ways than I can count. My heart goes out to Ken and the rest of her family in this time of sorrow for her loss. Few people can look back and see all the lives they have touched, but she had the comfort of knowing she was loved by so many.
Laurel Herbeck
Friend
August 23, 2020
I didn't get to know her well but she was a very interesting, talented woman. I'm so glad the Cerny girls were able to spend time with her. Sorry for the Wakefield family loss. Cancer sucks
Carolyn Nunn
Friend
August 23, 2020
Penny, I cannot believe how fast you left us. We had still so much fun to dream of fantastic Ideas, we were never short off. We shared a lot of inspiration on the second floor in the Lathrop Building in our studios. I will miss you.
Rest in peace
Linde kienle
Friend
August 23, 2020
We are sorry to hear about Penny passing Ken. It was nice to spend time with her down at the Mesa winter home, and you also. You all are in our prayers. Regards, Paul & Sharon Bergman
Paul Bergman
Friend
August 23, 2020
We gratefully remember her energy, industriousness, and caring personality. Her joy in teaching weaving will be with us always.
Angela and Victor Bell
Friend
August 23, 2020
Penny was a strong and good person. She helped so many. Her weaving efforts located in the Lathrop Building made downtown Fairbanks a better place. Rest In Peace Penny.
Jinx and Jim Whitaker
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences