Joee Redington Jr. passed away peacefully Aug. 14, 2017. He liked to tell people he was born on a reservation, albeit a military reservation, Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. He and his family came to Alaska and homesteaded on Knik Road in 1948. In the early 1950s Joe Sr. moved his family to Flathorn Lake, 5 miles up Fish Creek, off the Susitna River. He and his family commercial fished in Cook Inlet in the summer and mushed dogs in the winter. Each of the boys had his own fish camp and a set net site at the mouth of the Big Susitna River. At age 15, Joee routinely crossed Cook Inlet, going to Anchorage or Knik in a 26-foot wooden dory with two to four outboard motors on the transom. He hauled dog food, lumber and supplies to Flathorn or visited his grandfather in Knik.
In 1956, he entered the Junior Fur Rendezvous Race, which was run off Fourth Avenue. He came in last; the only person still on the street was his mom. In 1961, his last year as a junior, he won the Junior Fur Rendezvous and the Junior Open North American. In 1964, he was drafted into the Army and was assigned to the biathlon unit as a dog driver. Both the Army and Air Force fielded a team. Joee won the World Championship Fur Rendezvous in 1966 for the Army. He appeared on the TV show "To Tell the Truth" in 1966 after winning the race. He had memorable stories about New York, the hotel and the show. He saw his first revolving door; he called it a squirrel cage. He watched the people of New York go to work in the mornings, go down the elevator in the apartment building to the street, down to the subway and pop up in another building to work. At the end of the day it reversed. He described it was like watching the tide come in and go out. Everyone wore a trench coat, so he bought one too.
Joee won many races in Alaska and was always a threat in any event he entered. Joee raced all across Alaska, Canada, New York and New Hampshire, and the Mid-West circuit. He semi-retired from racing by himself in about 2010, but worked with Jeff Conn, Jason Dunlap and Gary Markley to race combined teams for a few years. In 2014, he raised his last litters of pups, which he and Pam continued to train. In 2017, dogs from these litters ran in the teams of Gary Markley, Emilie Entrikin, Marvin Kokrine, Dave Turner and Luke Sampson. Four of those dogs, one of which was the leader, ran in Roxy Wright's winning Fur Rondy and Open North American teams.
Joee was an icon in the mushing world, racing sprint (Fur Rondy and Open North American), mid-distance (Knik 100) and long distance (Iditarod in 1974 and 1975), placing ninth and third, respectively. His interests ranged to all types of mushing, and he believed in the versatility of the Alaskan husky, a breed that could do it all.
He was preceded in death by his father, Joe Redington, Sr., and his mother, Catherine Brodhead; his stepmother, Violet Redington; and stepfather, Tom Brodhead; his sister, Sheila; and brother, Keith.
He is survived by his wife, Pam; and two children, Joee Ray Redington (Melanie) and Heather Redington (Jamie McGee); two grandsons, Jacob Catlin and Robert Lee; brothers, Raymie (Barbara) and Tim Redington; nephews, Ray Jr., Vernon, Ryan and Robert Redington, Jamie and Jerry Aamodt; and nieces, Laurie and Lisa Redington and their families.
The funeral will be held at 1 p.m., Monday, Aug. 21, in Manley Hot Springs.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Aug. 18, 2017.