Vincent Ayac Kunnuk
Vincent Ayac Kunnuk, 83, passed away on May 24, 2017, in Anchorage, Alaska. He was born on King Island, Alaska, the second child in a family of 12 siblings. Vincent was trained at an early age to provide for his family by watching and learning the skills from his grandfather, Chief Olaranna. Vincent continued to live a subsistence lifestyle, through his love for hunting, even until the age of 83.
Vince left King Island and joined the Army when he was 18. After serving a period of time, he chose to make his home in Seattle, Wash., where he lived for 10 years working with the Japanese people and learning to speak nearly fluent Japanese.
Vince moved back to Nome, Alaska, where his parents were residing, so that he could help provide their need for Native foods. He worked several places before getting a permanent job with Alaska Commercial Company, eventually becoming manager of the hardware department.
He retired from Alaska Commercial Co. in 1983 and relearned the art of ivory carving and became an accomplished artist specializing in traditional type carvings.
In 1959 Vince joined the National Guard, and served his country for 23 years and six months, retiring as Master Sergeant (E-8) in 1983. During the 1964 Alaska Earthquake, he worked around the clock helping people in distress and keeping the city of Anchorage safe from looters.
He has received the Sergeant Major’s Award for perpetrating the traits and principles of leadership, the Master Sergeant’s Freedom Team Award, a certificate for outstanding service to the nation as a United States soldier and the Chief's Challenge Award. Vincent received the Distinguished Service Medal for outstanding dedication to performance of his unit’s missions. He also received a Medal of Commendation for personally supervising the rescue of a family of 10 during the Nome flood in 1974, only minutes before their home was swept out into the Bering Sea.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Leo Sr. and Agnes Kunnuk; and brothers, Paul, Peter, Timothy and Charles. He leaves behind his wife, Ruth Ann, of 50 years; his son, Tony of Anchorage; daughter Louise Johnson (Scott) of Nome; and Vinita Irene Kunnuk (Larry) of Anchorage; his foster daughter, Esther Rowland (David) of Florida; his grandchildren, Teddy Willoya, Aaliq Rowland, Stacey Kunnuk-Waghiyi, Jeremiah Johnson, Elijah Johnson and Patrik White; his great-granddaughters, Rene Willoya, Olivia Willoya, Tasha Kunnuk-Waghiyi and Aurora Kunnuk-Waghiyi; his sisters, Marie Anderson (Doug) of Kenai, Alaska, Julie Farley (Howard)of Nome, Theresa Cook of Oregon, and Adrianne Carver (Ralph) of Anchorage, Joe Kunnuk (Mary) of Nome, Dominic Kunnuk of Anchorage and William Kunnuk (Karen) of Nome; and numerous nephews, nieces and cousins whom he loved dearly. His brother, Leo and son Junior of Seward, both passed away less than a month after Vincent.
He had so many wonderful friends. Everyone will miss his quick wit and wonderful sense of humor.
Services were held on Friday, June 2, 2017, at 10 a.m. at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Anchorage, Alaska. Interment followed at Fort Richardson National Cemetery at 1:30 p.m.
A Mass will be held on Saturday, July 29, 2017 at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Nome. A Memorial Service will follow it at 2 p.m., a potluck at 3 p.m., and the King Island Dancers at 4 p.m., taking place at the Mini-Convention Center in Nome.