Roy Jake Tansy

March 16, 1934 ~ January 10, 2021 (age 86)


Roy Jake Tansy was born in Valdez Creek (C’ilaan Na’ - “abundant game creek”) in a

tent March 16, 1934.  He was the 2nd born child of Jake and Lily Tansy after his

sister Jane.  Roy was blessed to have 4 younger siblings, Alfred, Louise, Helga and

Ruby.  Roy talked about the fact that they helped their dad build the house in

Cantwell (Yedatene Na –“River behind the mountain”).  He said he was 8 years old

the first time he lived in a house.  Until then, they lived between Valdez Creek,

Cantwell and Brushkana.

He talked fondly about the years he played hockey while in school.  He grew up

hunting moose, caribou, sheep, bear and fishing.  He loved to tell stories of trips

into the mountains around Cantwell.  Roy will be fondly remembered for all the

stories of his youth.  Roy’s best friend growing up was Eric Carlson, they were each

other’s best men at their weddings and Roy loved visiting with Eric and talking to

him in his Ahtna language.

As an adult, Roy became a heavy equipment operator and was a proud member of

the Operator’s Local 302. He helped build the road from Cantwell to Denali

National Park and the Park road.  His favorite heavy equipment was the crane.  But

he was seen often on backhoes and bulldozers.

Roy was 33 when he met the love of his life!  Irene Widmark was going to UAF at

the same time as Roy’s sister Ruby.  Roy would come to Fairbanks to visit and would

take Ruby and Irene to dinner.  He started asking her to marry him right away.

For a year Irene thought he was joking.  One day she realized he was serious :)

She told him that he needed to ask her dad and they were married 5 months later

June 1, 1968.

After the birth of their daughter Carmel Lillian and son Roy Jake Jr., Roy decided

to further his education.  He earned an associate’s degree in Accounting at Sawyer

Business College in Los Angeles, CA in 1974.  After a brief time, Roy returned to

heavy equipment operating and helped build the Pipeline.  It was during these

years, their youngest son, Douglas Alan was born.  Roy later worked for Alyeska as

a P & CM pump station manager.  He worked there until he retired in 2002.

Roy was active in the Native community fighting for their rights.  He was the first

president of the Cantwell Alaska Native Brotherhood.  Roy served on boards such

as Fairbanks Native Association and Tanana Chiefs Conference Board before

ANCSA.  He was a Doyon board member soon after ANCSA.  He served on the

Cantwell SVO ever since Cantwell merged with Ahtna.  Roy was Ahtna president

while Ahtna settled with Alyeska over the use of Ahtna lands.  He was on the

Ahtna Heritage Foundation as an Elder Advisor.  Roy later served as an Ahtna

Board member for many years working for the betterment of all native peoples and

their lands.

Roy lived a life of adventure and constant activity.  He was invited to the White

House under President Ford…. worked 365 days straight one year ….. went on a trip

of a lifetime to Japan with his wife Irene for their 40 year anniversary ….. worked

in every corner of AK ….. went to the Superbowl with his son Douglas when he was

80 ….ate at the top of the World Trade Center….has been on the floor at Wall

Street...drove at least 17 roundtrips on the AlCan and was living and working in

Dallas when President Kennedy was shot.  Roy had a dream of becoming a pilot.

One day he came home and told Irene he had bought a plane.  He would then earn

his pilot’s license.  Because Roy was flying, Irene had to learn too.  Roy flew

actively with Civil Air Patrol in Gulkana.  He spent countless hours flying around the

state of Alaska to see family or even just to enjoy a piece of pie.

Roy and Irene loved people!  They had a deep sense of love for their family and

cultural traditions.  It was often said, wherever they travelled anywhere in the

world, they would see a longtime friend.  After 40 years of marriage, Irene died in

a tragic accident in 2009.  Roy forever felt this loss.  He then realized his

greatest hope to see Irene again was to follow Jesus.  He became a beloved active

member of Hamilton Acres Baptist Church.

Roy was blessed with the love of his growing family as Carmel married Doug Read.

Their 7 kids adored both Grandpa and Grandma Tansy.  Roy Jr married Martha and

has a daughter Elli.  She loves the things Grandpa Tansy loved, for example,

hunting, being outdoors and love of culture.  Douglas married Kristine and blessed

Grandpa Tansy with 5 wonderful grandkids.  Grandpa Tansy spent the last 5 years

of his life living with Douglas and his family in Fairbanks.  It was a happy

arrangement and he enjoyed his family!  Those 5 years were filled with lots of

adventures and precious times hearing Grandpa’s stories, life lessons and


Roy was a big guy.  He had a heart, love and personality that matched.  What he did

he did big.  Jan 10th, as Roy deteriorated from COVID-19, his family was making

preparations to bring him home under hospice care.  He was glad to hear he was

going home and went straight to Heaven instead.  As we mourn the big loss in our

lives, we can only imagine the huge celebration he is having with Irene, his parents,

his brother Alfred, his sister Ruby, his grandson Josiah, and all his friends and

family that have gone before!

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Roy Jake Tansy, please visit our floral store.


January 15, 2021

4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Hamilton Achers
138 Farewell Avenue
Fairbanks, AK 99701

Funeral Service
January 15, 2021

7:00 PM
Hamilton Achers
138 Farewell Avenue
Fairbanks, AK 99701

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