Ruth Sandvik
Ruth Blankenship Sandvik, 85, passed away Tuesday, April 29, 2014, in Kiana.
Ruth Blankenship Sandvik was born in Kotzebue to Walter and Nellie Blankenship. As a child, her family lived in Selawik and Candle, then settled in Kiana. She attended elementary school in Kiana, boarding school in White Mountain and finished high school in Fairbanks where she and her sister, Ida, lived with the bush pilot, Sam White, and his wife, Mary.
She worked her way through the University of Alaska Fairbanks as the secretary to Otto Geist in the Archaeology Department, graduating with a degree in biology in 1951. In college, she met a geological engineering student, Peter Sandvik, the son of Matanuska Valley colonists. She taught high school for a short time in Fairbanks while Pete taught at the college. They were married in 1953 in Fairbanks and eventually became the parents of seven children. The Sandviks lived in several places over the years - Nome, Fairbanks, Colorado, California, Illinois - but always considered Kiana home.
Ruth and her cousin, Robinson "Rob" Blankenship, took over her father's store, Blankenship Trading Post, in Kiana, in the late 1950s when Walter became ill. They were business partners serving customers, meeting the mail plane in Kiana for 30 years as agents for Wien Air Alaska, and Munz Northern Airlines, and operating the post office, which was attached to their store, until 1986. Ruth, Pete, and Rob built Kobuk Camp, a fishing lodge and camp for mining and oil exploration companies. After Rob's death in 2001, Ruth continued to operate the store. She had an incredible work ethic and expected the same of her family.
Ruth was an adventurer, an Iñupiaq woman who walked in two worlds with one spirit. She was the matriarch of her family, directing and including all in the operation of the family business. She loved berry picking, fishing, hunting and boating on the Kobuk River. She traveled to many places in the world, including four continents, Asia, Europe, Australia and North America. She was fascinated by archaeology and the history of Native people of Northwest Alaska. She was an enthusiastic supporter of the archaeological work of Dr.'s Louis Giddings and Doug Anderson, who focused their studies on Iñupiaq people.
Ruth was interested in the success of the community of Kiana, and the people of NANA Region. She served on the Kiana City Council. She was an excellent cook and a fun hostess, opening her home to many for an enjoyable meal, lively discussion and lots of laughter. She would strike up a conversation with anyone, and it was common for her to become fast friends with a seat-mate on an airplane by the end of the flight. It was typical for her to write notes of appreciation or encouragement, often surprising the recipient. She had an uncanny sense of timing. Her special messages always seemed to be delivered when they were most needed.
Ruth was preceded in death by her husband, Peter Sandvik; her cousin who was like a brother to her, Rob Blankenship; her parents, Walter and Nellie Blankenship; her sister, Ida Blankenship Evern; her brother-in-law, Bud Evern; her son-in-law, Kelly Culver; and her niece, Ruth Evern.
She is survived by her seven children, Kara Sandvik, and her husband, Steve Hatfield, of Tacoma, Washington; Robin Kornfield, and her husband, Ed, of Anchorage; Helvi Sandvik, of Anchorage; Kristin Nevin, and her husband, Michael, of Flower Mound, Texas; Thor Sandvik, and his wife, Emily, of Columbus, Ohio; Trygve Sandvik, and his wife, Peng Wen, of Yichang, China; and Stacy Dale and her husband, Kitt, of Sheridan, Montana.
She is survived by 16 grandchildren, Tamra and Tyler Kornfield; Robinson, Katy and Peter Culver; Kaylor, Terra and Jack Nevin; Linda, Peter, Haleyand Heather Sandvik; Tian Sandvik; and Rob, Kara and Allie Dale, and also by dear family friend, Bob Mariovelli, and her nieces and nephews and their families, Bucky Blankenship, Curt Evern, Dale Evern, Nellie Evern and Emory Evern.
A celebration of life will be held today, May 6, in Kiana and at 2 p.m. Friday, May 9, at O'Malley's on the Green in Anchorage. She will be buried later this summer at the family grave site on the hill behind Kidways, her favorite camp that was built by Pete and Rob.
Published by Daily News-Miner on May 6, 2014.
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30 Entries
I think of Ruth so very often.
Such a wonderful lady who is missed very much.
Lana Gundersen
May 1, 2020
I met Ruth at the Anchorage International Airport in the early 2000's. As we were waiting for luggage we engaged in a conversation. She needed a ride home and I offered to drop her off since she lived close to me. This would be the beginning of years of writing back and forth generally during the holidays. She was bright and witty and I am sorry for your loss. She was a gem and I trust her memory will always be in the hearts and minds of those who were fortunate enough to have met her even for a brief moment of time.
Terri Collins
April 30, 2019
May the God of all comfort and peace give the family peace and strength to endure. Psalm 121:1-3
Mimi Aggas
December 21, 2017
We send our condolences to Ruth's family. Rob, her partner for many years in Kiana, was my Uncle. He loved your mom and respected her wit, business acumen, and knowledge! She had a reputation for bringing light everywhere she went!
Phyllis PAIGE
March 11, 2015
To ALL seven Sandvik children.....from ALL the Baxters, your Glenview neighbors...our deepest sympathy. Jeanne is writing, "Remembering Ruth" and will forward it to you. Our love, our happy memories of both your you all. Love, Jeanne, Brian and Ned Baxter
May 31, 2014
Kara and Helvi, Our deepest sorrow upon the passing of Ruth. Her extraordinary contributions to Kiana, the State of Alaska and the world will be treasured forever.
Jo-Li and Dale Sellin
May 20, 2014
Aunt Ruth thank you for all you have a beautiful family that will love and miss you. A legacy that will live on..
May 19, 2014
About 12 years ago I was at the Ted Stevens International Airport to pick up my sister. Ruth, who I did not know, was in need of a ride to Adventure 600. I offered to drive her home and we had a wonderful conversation during the drive. We exchanged addresses, as people do, but we actually wrote one another for several years. And also as people do we no longer kept in touch. The thing that I remember was that this was a smart, self sufficient woman with a quit wit who I am thankful to have had the pleasure to converse with, she seemed to understand me right away and though our encounter was brief, she had a positive impact on my life. I send my best wishes to her family and envy them for having known her better. Ruth was a rare treasure. Best, Terri Collins
Terri Collins
May 18, 2014
Wanni and I were so saddened by Ruth's untimely death. She had been a good friend for more than 40 years. In addition to her friendship, we have always recognized and appreciated her enthusiasm for understanding her own culture and sharing her knowledge with us. What a loss to her community!
Douglas Anderson
May 16, 2014
So sorry to hear of the passing of Ruth Blankenship Sandvik. I will miss talking to her on the phone about Tom Baldwin's family and many other subjects. I hope she shared the Blankenship Family Tree I researched for her a few years ago for Christmas with all her children. She spoke of you all frequently during our conversations. She was a sweetheart. Always thoughtful and willing to help. I'm very grateful she answered my inquiry letter about the Tom Baldwin Family and was so willing to share what she remembered with me, a total stranger. And like so many others have written Ruth always remembered you once she knew you. I wish I had had the opportunity to meet her in person, but I'm glad I got to know her over the last few years. She was a very special person.

Rest In Peace Dear Ruth. You will be missed by many and in our thoughts and prayer forever.
D Phalen
May 13, 2014
Katherine Engell
May 9, 2014
She will be greatly missed. Especially Her Nuunak of calling me By Aana May's Inupiaq Name. Much Love & Hugs to you all <3
Katherine Engell
May 9, 2014
Ruth was a wonderful person,I knew her for many years ,May Almighty God bless her soul and put her in paradise AMIN
May 9, 2014
Sandvik family, Mike & I are so sorry to hear of Ruth's passing. She was a great Mom, quite a strong person, and never forgot you once she met you. Some time ago, I mentioned to Helvi on the phone that Mike was gone on a fire assignment that I thought was near Kiana, but BLM couldn't tell me where he was. Lo and behold, a couple hours later the phone rang. Helvi had spoken with Ruth who was at her store in Kiana. She, in her indomitable Ruth way, sent word for Mike to come to the store. He had never met her before, but he did then! She had him call, and so, I knew exactly where he was. She could move the world. May she rest in eternal peace.
Sharon McLeod-Everette
May 8, 2014
So sorry to hear of your mothers passing, Helvi and Robin. She was a great person and lived such a full life. I always looked forward to visits to Kiana with her excitement and hospitality. She will be missed, but she left a great posterity.
Shelby Stastny
May 8, 2014
Ruth was a very well liked and loved person by her community she lived in, Kiana, Alaska.. She will be truly missed...Condolences and prayers to the Family.
SHeila Watson
May 8, 2014
Thor and family, you are in our thoughts and prayers.
Beth Gifford
May 7, 2014
Sandvik family,

I was very saddened to hear of your loss. I just met her recently. She is a great person to speak inupiatun. She is very Kuuvak. I am keeping everyone in my prayer.
Ali Boskofsky
May 7, 2014
Helvi, Sorry to hear about your mother. What a wonderful and interesting life she lived. I will be thinking of you.
Stewart Osgood
May 7, 2014
Helvi, so sorry for your loss. Momma had great respect for her.
Nina Norton/Dublin (Opferman)
May 7, 2014
Helvi - my condolences to you and your family. Chris Ashton, WorleyParsons
May 7, 2014
To the Family of Ruth, I was so saddened today to read of Ruth's passing. We resided in the same condo complex in Anchorage for many years. I remember well the first time we met. You became instant friends with Ruth the moment you met. I always looked forward to seeing and visiting with her whenever she came into Anchorage. What a fantastic lady. She will be missed by so many. I know I will never forget her. You couldn't help but love her. Alaska has lost a remarkable woman. My thoughts and prayers are with her entire family.
Lana Gundersen
May 6, 2014
To the Sandvik Family:

Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this moment of your great loss.

With Sympathy,

Mike and Lydia Scott
Mike and Lydia Scott
May 6, 2014
I am so sorry to hear of your mom's passing. I spent so much time at your house growing up with Kris that it felt like a second home to me. I am so grateful to have always been welcome in your home, and for the delicious food your mom would make us that I might never have been exposed to as a kid in Glenview, Illinois (lingenberry pancakes & caribou sausage!) Thinking of you, Kris, and all of you Sandviks, and remembering your mom fondly.
Becky Johns (Beiter)
May 6, 2014
Helvi, on behalf of myself and the WorleyParsons team, our deepest sympathies to you and your family on the loss of your mother. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Randy Karren
May 6, 2014
Tina Barbour
May 6, 2014
So sorry to hear of the passing of your loved one and friend. My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you. May you take comfort in the knowledge she is now in Heaven with God and watching over her family and friends.
Tina Barbour (Westlake)
May 6, 2014
I am so sorry to hear that your Mom passed away. She was a wonderful person and I will always carry with me the found memories of growing up next to the Sandvik family and spending time with Kris at your house. Your mom was always smiling and such a fun mom to be around - maybe because she found such pleasure in serving us her fine Alaskan cuisine :) Your home was always full of such good energy with all of her wonderful kids around. I was blessed to have known her. My thoughts are with your family during this difficult time. God Bless
Carla McKevitt
May 6, 2014
To Ruth's Family. I only knew her for a little while when she came to Anchorage to the Condo, She was a beautiful woman both inside and out and I felt like she was a friend for a long time . I knew Ida and loved her and her family. To Dale, Nellie Curtis and Emory and wonderful Helvi, my thoughts are with you all. I will miss her.too
Marge Hansen
May 6, 2014
A most wonderful person. Rest in peace Ruth and thank you.
Martha Stewart
May 6, 2014
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