Long-time North Pole resident Jeannette Therriault passed away peacefully at her home on 3 April from cancer.
Jeannette was born to Denis and Agnes Therriault on 8 April 1932 in Pincher Creek, Alberta, Canada. Growing up, Jeannette worked with her siblings on the family ranch, traveling by horse to attend the local one room school ultimately graduating from St. Michael’s High School. She completed a semester of college in Calgary but withdrew due to illness. Shortly after, she met Hector Therriault, a man she later described as a “handsome American,” at a Pincher Creek square dance. The two were married in March 1951, and moved to Interior Alaska initially residing in Moose Creek near what is now Eielson Air Force Base.
Jeannette and Hector purchased land in the Highway Park subdivision, now a part of North Pole, where they initially lived in a small trailer. At the time the area was remote, but had electric service, which allowed them to build their first home. Theirs was one of the first homes to have running water, negating the need to melt snow or haul water to care for their growing family. Their seven children were all born at Fairbanks’ St. Joseph’s Hospital between 1952 and 1963. Jeannette became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1961.
Hector’s Welding was founded in 1956 in the garage of their home. Jeannette served as the firm’s bookkeeper throughout the shop’s expansion as it grew to become one of the largest welding fabrication shops in Interior Alaska. Hector passed away in 2004, but the shop continued to operate with Jeannette’s assistance under the management of their oldest son, Ken.
Jeannette was always driven by her faith, and her persistent lobbying efforts led to an initial attempt to build a Catholic church in the North Pole area in the 1960s. She and others finally succeeded in initiating Catholic Church services at North Pole’s Grange Hall in the early 1970s, followed by the construction of a temporary Catholic church in North Pole. That simple structure was replaced in December 1978 with the dedication of St. Nicholas Catholic Church.
An accomplished piano player, Jeannette maintained a lifelong love of music, dancing and the arts. She and Hector were driving forces for the North Pole and Fairbanks square dance associations, and the two taught classes at Eielson, Salcha, and Delta Junction. Jeannette also played piano at St. Nicholas parish services for decades, a practice she maintained even after her March 2021 diagnosis with cancer. She remained active in the community, Hector’s Welding and St. Nicholas Parish until the very end of her life.
Jeannette is survived by her seven children, Ken Therriault, Laura Therriault, Bonne’ Woldstad, Donna Therriault, Gene Therriault, Dwayne Leo Therriault, and Ron Therriault; sons-in-law Ken Woldstad and Daryl Sebelius, daughters-in-law Jo Kuchle and Wendy Rudolph; and grandchildren Theresa and Fredrick Woldstad, Justin and Jordyn Therriault, and Sophia, Sarah, and Samantha Therriault, as well as numerous relatives in Canada and Montana.
Funeral services for Jeannette will be conducted at 2 PM on Saturday, 10 April, at St. Nicholas Church in North Pole. Given her spiritual devotion and life-long patronage of the arts in the Interior, her family requests that donations in her memory be made to St. Nicholas Catholic Church, the Fairbanks Symphony Orchestra – Youth Program, the Fairbanks Drama Association, or the Fairbanks Suzuki Institute.
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