Bode had developed a rare and lethal cancer, which she discovered in early December, 2020. She was 63 years old.
Although it is impossible to reconcile that she is gone, turn your attention to the goodness she exemplified here on Earth. It is stunning to think that such a life force can fade.
Born in Chicago Heights, IL, her family permanently moved to Aitken, MN when she was 13. There she spent time honing “hobby farming” and boating skills at their place on Lone Lake. Boating became a lifelong pursuit, and she spent many happy hours in places around the globe "messing about in boats".
In high school, Linda Bode was a top athlete in varsity basketball, volleyball, and track. She won the honor of ‘Best All Around’ for her scholarship, sportsmanship, and gregarious participation.
She graduated from Aitken High in 1976 with athletic scholarships to the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, ND. As a UND Fighting Sioux, Bode played basketball, volleyball, and badminton, winning a regional/international championship in badminton in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Bode finished UND in 1981 with degrees in Physical and Special Education. She was recruited and took a position with Bering Straits School District shortly thereafter, landing in Koyuk, Alaska.
Linda was thrilled to be working in Koyuk under master teachers Don and Lynne Gillespie, and getting to know the Inupiat of the Bering Straits region. Imagine living in the school and only one phone for the entire village! In addition to her Special Ed responsibilities she coached skiing, wrestling, and team sports. In Koyuk, she had a sailing Folboat, a loyal pup, and unforgettable experiences. She adventured by snow-go and traveled extensively to remote villages for sports matches, cultural events, or just plain fun. Miss Bode is fondly remembered by the locals who to this day reach out to say “Hi"!
In 1985 Bode relocated to Fairbanks with the purchase of Chena River Floats. In the summer, she ran the canoe livery on the Chena River. She subbed for Fairbanks North Star Borough School District in winter. Two years later, she landed a permanent position at Lathrop High School as an Intensive Resource teacher, and coached the gymnastics team while she worked there.
Subsequent teaching assignments included PE positions at North Pole and Tanana Middle Schools. She was especially proud to be chosen as a member of the opening group of educators at the new Randy Smith Middle School. Colleagues who worked with Linda at all of these locations will recall her knack for lively shenanigans, her colorful clothing choices and her dedication to students.
Because she lost her own father at age 13, Bode had a deep connection with teens. Linda Bode loved the middle school concept and the students’ many challenges at this awkward age. Games, sports, counseling and fun activities were the avenues she used to help students develop skills crucial for success. Linda Bode believed in inclusion for all.
Bill Kilgore and Linda Bode were master team teachers at Randy Smith Middle School, and their friendship and respect for each other created a powerful and unforgettable teaching combination.
Coach Bode took every single volleyball team she ever coached to the championship level, including the Hutchison High School’s Lady Hawks. Several of Bode’s protégés entered college with volleyball scholarships. She had an impressive record of 20 championship volleyball seasons at Randy Smith Middle School, some where the team never lost a game! She loved the Randy Smith Black Bears!
Instrumental in years of Arctic Winter Games, Bode enjoyed the unique blend of international camaraderie and competition. She attended games as part of the Alaska Contingent Mission Staff in Yellowknife, Grand Prairie, Iqaluit, Whitehorse, Wood Buffalo, Canada and Kenai and Fairbanks, AK. A shout out to John Estle for keeping her involved at the highest level as one of his minions! Native and traditional games were a special event she admired for it's athleticism and skill set.
Barbara O’Donnell and Linda Bode were life partners in crime. They met at Denali National Park in 1988 and shared many happy years exploring Alaska and the world. Travels included work at Denali and Katmai National Parks, several outstanding adventures deep into Mexico, sailing the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, visit to Iceland with Cory G and her niece, and biking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. They recently completed a fantastic 16-day raft trip through the Grand Canyon during the Covid 19 Pandemic. Bode acknowledged that guardian angels were watching over her and keeping her safe the entire time they were on the river.
A very cool tradition Bode and Barb shared was to drive to Whitehorse, YT for Christmas break! It's a challenge to drive the AlCan in the depths of winter but they packed pets and provisions into the car and would drive 600 miles south to enjoy the few more minutes of sunlight per day, the Canada Centre and the "international cuisine" Whitehorse could offer. Give this winter adventure a try because once you do it you will be hooked.
Their sunlit home is in the welcoming community of Ester, Alaska. They fully participated in the quirky events that make Ester such a wonderful place to live. They were involved in The Fireplug Sled Dog Race and Ester Volunteer Fire Department, Fourth of July Parade and Picnics, library fundraisers, and events at The Blue Loon, Golden Eagle and Malemute Saloons. Ester Community Park was a special place for Bode and her white poodle, Lumi.
Intrigued by the bond formed between woman and dog during agility training, Bode took to this activity with enthusiasm. The team of Linda & Lumi scored many ribbons and championships in this challenging and esoteric sport. Tanana Valley Kennel Club was fortunate to have her participation on the Board of Directors. Lumi and Bode were also a sanctioned therapy dog team for Companions, Inc., and they brightened the day for many who needed a smile.
Recently retired as a Counselor at Randy Smith Middle School after giving just under 40 years of service to this state,
Linda anticipated many more years of boating, cycling, dog events and travel.
Consider that her soul is made of the love she shared, undiminished by time and unbound by death. She will be missed but will be present in spirit just a breath away.
Those who know that love include her mother Jean Bode in Aitken, MN, brother Russell and niece Tabitha, many relatives, close friends, colleagues and club associates, and countless students. Although missing her terribly, Barbara O'Donnell and the pets will carry on with their adventures bringing her along in their hearts. That will make Bode happy.
Per request, her ashes will be scattered in places where she felt a deep connection. Donations on her behalf may be directed to the Ester Community Park thru Ester Community Association online. Be fair, kind and generous to one another in Linda Bode's memory.
A Celebration of Linda Bode's life will be held Sunday May 2, 2021 at Blanchard Family Funeral Home 611 Noble Street, Fairbanks, AK. Mingling and visitation from 12-1 PM with a focused service at 1 PM. Please bring stories and anecdotes about Bode to share. Light refreshments are provided. This event will be shared on Blanchard Family Funeral Home Facebook Live page.
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