Lucille D. (Benson) Oligney, 91, died peacefully in Fairbanks on Saturday evening, April 3, 2021. All five of her children and a number of grandchildren and great-grandchildren were by her side.
She loved the Lord, her family and her community. Lucille is well known in Fairbanks for decades of caring for others. Her home was always open to foster children, day care, adult assisted living and village student programs ... anyone who had a need, really. It didn't matter their age, race, religion, background or ability to pay.
Lucille was born Dec. 13, 1929, and raised in Stephen, Minnesota. She was the youngest of six and the last surviving sibling since the death of an older brother in 2019. Lucille was ready to move on after high school and decided on nursing; after graduation from nursing school in 1951, she worked for a spell in Oregon, but was on the lookout for more adventure. On a whim, she and a girlfriend applied for nursing jobs in the "Last Frontier" of Alaska. Lucille arrived in the village of Bethel in 1953, where she soon caught the eye of a young serviceman and her future husband, Robert.
Lucille and Robert married in 1954 and lived in Indiana while he earned a degree in civil engineering. By 1961 they had returned to Alaska. Over the years Bob's job would take them "Outside," but they were always quick to return to Alaska. Bob worked the Alaska pipeline and for the state of Alaska; Lucille worked off and on as a nurse, including a stint at Nordale Elementary in the 1970s, but constantly used her nursing skills to provide care in the family home.
Twice, Lucille's photo was featured on the front page of newspapers in Alaska, California and across the country. The first was a picture of a "pregnant Lucille" evacuating after the Valdez earthquake in 1964 with three small children in tow. The second was for her role as foster parent to the Alaska "miracle baby" who survived severe frostbite and spending the night in a snow drift.
Lucille leaves behind daughter, Sandra (and Michael) Chafee; daughter, Cynthia Oligney; daughter, Rebecca (and Sheldon) Thompson; foster daughter, Dorothy (and Stan) Parkerson; and son, Ronald (and Cheryl) Oligney. She leaves a legacy of 57 extended family members, including 20 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her husband, Robert Oligney, and grandson, Caleb Oligney.
A visitation and memorial service will be held from 3-4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 7, 2021, at Chapel of Chimes, 415 Illinois St.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Apr. 7, 2021.