Vera Angasan (Kie) passed away peacefully surrounded by her children and family on Dec. 2, 2016, in Anchorage, Alaska. Anchorage funeral services were held at St. Innocent Russian Orthodox cathedral on Dec. 5, 2016, officiated by Father John Zabinko. Funeral services in South Naknek, Alaska, will be held on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, at 12 p.m. at the Elevation of the Holy Cross Church, followed by a potluck at the South Naknek Village Council community center. Vera was compassionately known by all who knew her as "Gramma Vera," or simply as "Gramma." She was born at Ugashik, Alaska, on Oct. 4, 1924, to Joe and Anishia Kie. Vera led a blessed life, having overcome early hardship and the loss of her parents at a young age, as well as growing up during the post-pandemic era of 1918s Spanish flu. By age 7, she was adopted by Pelagia and Nick "Taata" Melgenak of New Savonoski, a refuge settlement established in the wake of the 1912 eruption of Novarupta in what is now known as Katmai National Park. Pelegia is most known for her matriarchal community leadership and humanitarianism having cared for several who were orphaned by the pandemic of 1918. During this time, Vera spent much of her childhood years learning the lifeways of her newly adopted family and by living a semi-nomadic subsistence lifestyle between various Naknek River settlements and "Kittiviq" at Brooks River, where she and her family harvested red fish and other migrating game to serve as the familys winter bounty. Vera's lifestyle was her livelihood and she was careful to teach and pass down these survival traditions to all her children and grandchildren including those willing to learn and work. In 1947, she wed Trefon Angasan II, who many affectionately knew as "Grampa Trefon." They made their permanent home in the village of South Naknek, where they went on to raise their 10 children. Vera worked 38 seasons for the Alaska Packers Association at Diamond "NN" cannery at South Naknek and later on as South Naknek's first community health aide. Eventually, she and her husband retired from seasonal work at the cannery and made their winter home in King Salmon, Alaska, where they enjoyed a domesticated life made easier through advancing modernization. Although Vera was well known for her hardworking subsistence oriented lifestyle of fishing, hunting, trapping and as a master skin sew, she is best known for her success as a commercial fisherwoman on the set-net beach at South Naknek. Vera fished with a fierce intensity and independence, and would often exclaim that "fish don't run during the winter," or "you have all winter to sleep." Her set-net operation was often manned by a small crew of grandchildren, who often performed with the precision of a small army and with tactical determination. She was known for her quick hands and fast picking and could often clear an entire loaded net by herself, while her crew moved fish from the water line to higher ground. When the waters were rough, she could often be seen in her small raft bobbing up and down in the waves keeping her nets clean in the hope of catching more salmon to market. She remained active as a permit holder at her commercial set-net operation until finally retiring at age 78. Vera and Trefon were strong proponents of formal and higher education. Each worked hard to provide access to quality education and eventually a secondary education for all their children, Vera was often proud to share that six of her 10 children were college graduates, four of whom went on to achieve post-graduate degrees. Several of her children and grandchildren went on to achieve high profile executive careers in post ANCSA for-profit and non-profit sectors. Vera was a devout Orthodox Christian, serving as church "starosta" at Elevation of the Holy Cross Church at South Naknek for many years. Vera is preceded in death by her brother, Nick Kie of Ugashik; parents, Joe and Anishia Kie of Ugashik; adopted parents, Pelagia and Nick Melgenak of New Savonoski; grandson, Troy Nielsen of South Naknek; grandson, Benny Kevin Leon Angasan of South Naknek; brother, Steve Kie of Naknek; husband, Trefon Angasan II of South Naknek/King Salmon; daughter, Katherine Groat of Boat Creek; granddaughter, Tisha M. Angasan of Anchorage; grandson, Trefon "Trapheme" Angasan IV of Anchorage; and granddaughter, Eva M. Nielsen-King of South Naknek. Vera is survived by her children, Fred T. Angasan and companion Elena Blunka of South Naknek, Mary Jane Nielsen and husband Donald of South Naknek, Trefon "Jr." Angasan III and wife Gwen of Anchorage, Ralph Angasan Sr. and wife Clara of King Salmon, Viola Savo of King Salmon, Val Angasan and wife Cecelia of Anchorage, Martin Angasan and companion Mary Jadinger of South Naknek, Steven Angasan and wife Nola of Naknek and Anishia Elbie and husband Jeff of South Naknek. Vera leaves behind a legacy of many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, and countless friends from around the world.
Published by Anchorage Daily News on Dec. 7, 2016.