Percy Koppezuruk Nayokpuk

Percy Koppezuruk Nayokpuk

August 29, 1952 ~ August 2, 2022

Percy Koppezuruk Nayokpuk was born August 29, 1952 in Shishmaref to his parents Walter Keok and Sophie Aanauraq Nayokpuk. Even in his earliest years, it was obvious Percy was very talented and smart. He attended Shishmaref Elementary followed by Nome-Beltz High School in Nome and Lathrop High School in Fairbanks. Percy went on to study Business Administration at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks which set the stage for his lifelong career as a successful business operator and owner.

Percy married Inez Nayokpuk (Ningeulook) in 1973 and together they welcomed their son Thomas, and three daughters Gwendolyn, Sheila and Sophie. Inez tragically passed away in 1996.

Percy and his current companion, Josie Weyiouanna, lived together for 25 years and had two sons, the late Jay Jacob, whom Percy played a fatherly role to, and their youngest son Walter Douglas Esau Nayokpuk. He taught his son Walter the fundamentals of hunting and survival skills through his stories what he told, including Walter’s friends.

In 1980 Percy followed the footsteps of his father and began working as the assistant manager of the Nayokpuk General Store, also known locally as “Walter’s Store”. His amazing work ethic and savvy business skills led him to take on the reins as the store’s general manager and later, as owner-operator. Early in his professional life, Percy was very involved in the formation of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), a role that brought him to Japan, Russia, Canada and Greenland. As a young professional, Percy also spent time as a math teacher at Nome-Beltz and as a hotshot firefighter.

Percy was a lifelong advocate and leader for the village of Shishmaref and the whole Bering Strait region. Percy began his official regional leadership in 1985 when he was elected to the Bering Straits Native Corporation Board of Directors. He dutifully served on the board for 30 years. Percy also served as city clerk for the City of Shishmaref and spent several years as the mayor of Shishmaref. He will always be remembered for his leadership and professionalism.

One of Percy’s greatest abilities was to charm people with stories and history. His deep knowledge of the local history and culture, his lifelong experiences as an avid hunter and dog musher, combined with his sharp wit and clever humor, made his stories unforgettable. Percy’s charm drew crowds of people to his vendor booths at the Alaska Federation of Natives and could make a quick visit to the store in Shishmaref a memorable experience. You knew you were in for a great story or joke when Percy would peek at you over his glasses and flash his classic grin. Percy began capturing stories and Shishmaref history in a book he was writing.

Percy’s uncanny ability to recall Shishmaref history and stories was rooted in his deep respect for Inupiat history. He listened very closely to his parents and the Elders of his community and took note of important things shared with him. Like so many in Shishmaref, Percy was also a talented artist and ivory carver. Percy helped establish the market to sell locally produced carvings, artwork, jewelry and other handicrafts at venues such as the AFN, Fur Rondy, and other gatherings.

He was an avid dog musher, him and his late wife Inez entered dog races during the Shishmaref Spring Carnival and also other villages.

Percy was most proud of his children and grandchildren, and all their amazing accomplishments. He taught his children and grandchildren how to navigate life, figuratively, through life’s ups and downs, but also literally how to navigate the land while living the subsistence way of life. He truly lived for his family, his children and grandchildren.

Outside of managing the store and fuel station, Percy spent his free time boating, fishing, gathering, and hunting for oogruk, moose, caribou, reindeer, geese, ducks and other resources. Percy was also able to play piano, guitar and accordion.

He will be remembered as an active community leader, dedicated brother, spouse, partner, father, uncle, cousin, grandfather, and friend. One who deeply valued politics, business, and leadership. One who saw value in teaching and mentoring youth. One who was fulfilled living a subsistence lifestyle. Percy lived to serve his community and to love his family. We will forever be grateful for the blessing of his life.

Percy is survived by his companion Josie Weyiouanna, his sons Thomas and Walter Nayokpuk, his daughters Gwendolyn (and Dennis) Davis, Sheila (and Percy) Avugiak, Sophia Dixon (and Preston Dixon); by his siblings: sisters Joan (and late Corey) Hjalseth and Bonnie Nayokpuk (Vincent Tocktoo, Jr.); and brothers Russell Nayokpuk and Curtis (and late Sheryl) Nayokpuk, and Johnson (and Luci) Eningowuk; and his beloved grandkids: Nathaniel, Isaac, Bridgette, Kyle, Davey, Nicole, Kirstyn, Shane Walter, Dallas, Seth, Makayla, Preston, Isaiah, Arianna, Trenten, Noah, Abigail, Brendan, Katherynne, Alicia, Connor, Brennen, and Alayniya “Ine”. Percy is also survived by numerous cousins, nephews, nieces, family and friends. 

Percy is preceded in death by his parents Sophie and Walter Nayokpuk, wife Inez Nayokpuk, brother Johnny Nayokpuk, grandparents Mary and Joseph Eningowuk, Annie Koonuk and Elmer Nayokpuk, in-laws Frieda and Davey Ningeulook, brother-in-law Dana Ningeulook, sister-in-law Helen Garnand, aunts Flora Weyiouanna, Katherine Barr, Eleanor Eningowuk, Dorothy Bell, Alma Mullins, Geraldine Kiyutelluk, Virginia Nayokpuk, and Holly Sockpick, uncles Phillip Eningowuk, Perry Eningowuk, Herbert, Lawrence, Warren and Roderick Nayokpuk, Delbert and Reuben Eningowuk and numerous nephews, nieces, cousins, and extended family.

Rest in heavenly peace, Percy K. Nayokpuk, we will always hold you high in our memories and hearts. You made a huge positive difference on this earth.



The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

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

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