Verna Ruth (James) Silvernail

Verna Ruth (James) Silvernail

January 22, 1968 – October 11, 2017

Verna Ruth “Buniqi” James was born January 22, 1968 in Golovin, Alaska to Beatrice and Herbert James, Jr. Verna joined the family that included her big sister BeeJay who was excitedly waiting for her arrival.  And just eighteen months later, Herbert and Beatrice were expecting their second child together but unfortunately at seven months pregnant, Beatrice had an aneurysm and did not survive. Attempts were made to save the unborn baby but were unsuccessful.

After the tragedy, BeeJay went to live with her grandparents in White Mountain. Verna went to live with her grandmother, Esther Rita James in Nome and her first cousin Brian James. Together Verna and Brian were raised like brother and sister.

From a young age and throughout her life Verna had an outgoing personality and drew people in, no matter where she lived or what she was doing.  She was affectionately given the nickname “Sunshine” that her family and many friends still called her to this day. Verna was like a super magnet with an outgoing personality and people really just enjoyed being in her company and she loved being around people as well.

Verna had special nicknames for her friends and close acquaintances, she always remembered special dates like it was written in stone.Verna was very talented at a young age; she was a Brownie; then promoted to Girl Scout and was selected to represent her squadron that travelled to National venues across the country. 

Verna also lived one high school year in Minnesota with her best friend Janana (Andrews) Gilder. Verna came back to Nome and walked with her graduating class of 1986 (the best year ever by her and her brother’s accounts)!

After high school Verna worked with her husband to be-Marty Silvernail’s dad Byron at Fat Freddie’s and later on she worked at the Norton Sound Regional Hospital.  Verna carried both jobs for quite a while and she would complete one shift and then go directly to the next shift at the other job.

Eventually, Verna started working at NSRH as a sterilization technician full time and was promoted to sterilization manager that she held for many years.  Verna was one of the first Alaska Native managers at NSRH at the time and she took great pride in only hiring the most qualified individuals to work in her department. 

     Verna and Marty met in 1991 and later married on December 10, 1994 on Marty’s birthday (so he would not forget their anniversary).  Together they loved each other and lived in Nome, though they did not have any kids together; Verna had a special place in her heart for her pets—mainly dogs that she always had and tenderly cared for and treated like her babies; second only to her husband of 23 years Marty Silvernail.  There was Brownie, Cookie and finally Rachel.

Preceded in Verna’s death are her grandparents Esther and Herbert James, Sr., her father Herbert James, Jr. and her mother Beatrice, uncles Herman Dickie, Jimmy Francis, John Andrew; aunts Glades (James) Brown, Lucy Mae, Sarah Ruth and Laura (Wilkilkia) James.  On her maternal side her grandparents Aaron and Ruth Simon, great uncle Harry Garfield; aunts Lorraine Hammond, Josephine Prentice and on her husband’s side Byron and Jean Silvernail and brother, Roy Silvernail.
     Verna leaves behind her brother Brian (Donna) James and their children Esther, Sara and Jack; cousins Timmy (Muffin) James, Ernie Wilkalkia, Glenda (Guy) Childs of Trout Lake, Washington; Frances Morgan of Sitka, Betsy Haworth of Anchorage, Deanna (Eric) Fitzgerald of North Pole, sister BeeJay (Tom) Gray and their children Trisha (John) Walters, Travis and Hunter Gray and many, many other nieces and nephews, friends and family. 

In Lieu of Flowers please make a donation to PAWS of Nome, thank you.

The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112

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