Philip "Dennis" Argall was born in Petersburg, Alaska, in August 1948. He had two sisters, Claudia and Marilyn, and he was the only son of Philip and Mary Argall. The family moved to Nenana in April of 1955. His mother was a nurse's aide and worked out of the Culinary Union. His father started out as an electrician, he then became an electronic technician. He was a member of the Alaska Territorial Guard as well as the railroad superintendent for the United States government.
Dennis attended school in Nenana, and first began working for the Ice Classic in 1963 at the early age of 14. He graduated from Nenana Public School in 1967. After graduation and freshly out of high school he joined the Navy and left Nenana in September of 1967. He was in the Navy for five years, during which time he spent a year stationed on three different air carriers, the USS Halsey, the USS Saratoga and the USS America off of the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam conflict in the Carrier Division Staff. After he was discharged from the Navy he moved back to Nenana and worked at the local gas station. He also enjoyed hunting and fishing.
In 1980 he married Marcia Cressel, and they were married for 14 years. Together they had three sons: Misha (35) of Washington state, Philip Ian (33) of Montana, and Dylan (33) also of Washington state. Over the years Dennis had worked for the state of Alaska Department of Fish & Game, Nenana City Public School, Tanana Chiefs Conference and various other employers.
Dennis served on the Board of Directors for the Nenana Ice Classic from 1986 until 2018. He was also a member of the Nenana Tribal Council since the late 1970s to present. Dennis was a very quiet man, and he lived a simple life. He enjoyed hunting, fishing and trapping, a part of his culture.
Dennis was a very intricate part of the Nenana Ice Classic. He knew everything there was to know about the workings of the Nenana Ice Classic from measuring the ice, where to strategically place the tripod on the river each spring, rigging the rope and wires from the tripod to the tower, and setting up and keeping the clock wound and ready (he is the keeper of the clock). He set up the computers, tables, cubbies and made sure everything is ready for the Ice Pool workers to begin on the 10th of April each year. He was the heart and soul of the Nenana Ice Classic. The community of Nenana has been very fortunate to have had this man involved in this great Alaskan tradition.
Philip "Dennis" Argall is the Nenana Ice Classic!
Dennis was a member of the Nenana Native Village. He was a shareholder with Toghotthele Corporation, Doyon LTD. and Bristol Bay Native Corporation.
Unfortunately, we lost Dennis in late April of 2021. He will be greatly missed by all that had the opportunity to know him. He was a good man!
Published in Daily News-Miner on May 2, 2021.