Lillian "Lill" Edith Fickus, 69, passed away at her family home, Crevice Creek Ranch in the Brooks Range, on July 21, 2009.
Lill was a proud Athabascan "princess" whose father, Moses Sam, was chief of Venetie, and later, the traditional chief of Arctic Village. Her mother, Jennie Sam, bore 14 children in the Alaska wilderness, and Lill helped raise many of them. She lived in the Venetie, Christian Village and the Fort Yukon area during her girlhood.
In 1959, Lill married William "Bill" Fickus, making their first home in North Pole. After growing up in villages, Lill was ecstatic to be living in the "big city," and she bore her first two children there. But when Bill packed up the family to move to an isolated placer mine in the Brooks Range, she supported his decision, having her last two children while living at Crevice Creek. They lived there full-time until Bill's death in October 2007.
Lill was truly a life partner. To support the family, they hunted, trapped and fished, and mined for gold. She and Bill grew a half acre garden that produced vegetables for the winter, and raised many farm animals. They maintained the farthest north ranch in the United States, including a herd of horses. She served as assistant guide to Bill's guiding business and was able to prepare the most delicious meals from very basic ingredients.
Lill was a prolific and talented Alaska Native artist, beading beautiful articles of clothing and accessories. She enjoyed knitting, sewing and crocheting, gifting those she loved with lovely pieces. Lill also loved caring for her grandchildren, and was "Grandma Lill" to many children.
After losing her husband, Lill divided her time living with her children in Fairbanks and Reno, Nev. She recently spent happy months in Hawaii with friends, enjoying the tropics for the first time.
Lill was preceded in death by her husband of 47 years; her youngest daughter, Linda Kay Manns; her parents and many siblings.
She is survived by her daughter, Deborah; sons, Matt and Timothy; and her grandchildren, Michael, Denali, Matthew, Blake, Garret, Kylie, Dawson and Aana. She's also survived by her sisters, Margaret and Elizabeth, and her brother Edward.
Funeral services will be held at Door of Hope Church, 270 Fairhill Road, Fairbanks, at 4 p.m., Tuesday, July 28, 2009.
Arrangements were made by Chapel of Chimes Funeral Home.