June Iue Degnan
June Iue Degnan, the beloved daughter of the late Frank Auvnue and Ada Quyan Degnan of Unalakleet, died peacefully at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage, Alaska on July 9, 2018.
June was born on June 1, 1937 in Unalakleet, Alaska. She attended school in Unalakleet until age 12, when she left to attend Mt. Edgecumbe High School.
After moving to Anchorage, she married James Hartwick of Belleville, Michigan. They had two children, Matthew James Hartwick and Juliet Degnan Hartwick.
After moving to Florida, June completed and earned her high school diploma, received her BA degree in psychology at Nova University in Florida in 1979, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Education in 1981. In 1983, she began graduate studies in Public Administration in Environmental Growth Management. She worked for the Seminole Tribe in education. She received her graduate degree in administration and learning. She believed strongly in continuing education and mentoring students on their path to higher education.
A breast cancer survivor of many years, June devoted her time to projects close to her heart in Alaska that would positively benefit its people, the land and the environment. She worked as a land planner for the Unalakleet Native Corporation in Unalakleet, a teacher at Service High School in Anchorage, a librarian archivist for Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, a ranger for the National Park Service in Sitka, and founder and president of Haven House Juneau, a transitional, non-profit residence for women exiting the prison system.
She was a published poet and read her poetry at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France. She used her poetry in public policy hearings to advance positive indigenous peoples’ human rights. She loved her long nature walks in the Juneau tidelands and rejoiced in seeing all the various birds and waterfowl living there. She loved singing gospel songs in Yup’ik, Inupiaq, and Tlingit. She knew the history of Alaska as it was from the First Peoples’ perspectives and was a proud Yup’ik woman of many interests and talents.
June served on the Bering Straits Native Corporation regional board as a director in the mid-1980s. She is a shareholder in Unalakleet Native Corporation and Bering Straits Native Corporation. She was an enrolled member of Sitka Tribe of Alaska. She was a member of Glacier Valley Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp #70.
June was recently elected as second Vice President of the Grand Camp of the Alaska Native Sisterhood. She served as acting pastor at the Utqiagvik Presbyterian Church in Utqaigvik, Alaska in the fall of 2016. She was on the church council for the Northern Light United Church.
June was recognized across the state as a hard worker who defended those who were in need. In 2017, June received the First Lady’s Volunteer of the Year Award in recognition of her volunteer work for establishing Haven House Juneau. On March 3, 2018, June was honored as a Woman of Distinction for her community activism in Juneau by AWARE (Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies). She worked tirelessly in helping others.
She was born and raised into a subsistence life at Unalakleet and moved well in the modern world of technology. She loved many and lived life to the fullest. She accomplished much in her lifetime on behalf of others. Seeing God was her goal. June leaves many friends, relatives, acquaintances, and colleagues, whom she cherished during her long sojourn on God’s earth.
She is survived by her daughter Juliet Degnan Hartwick and Juliet’s husband, Shawn Coughlin; her grandson Wade Hartwick, his wife Paula, and their two children; her grandson Beau Hartwick of Florida. She is also survived by her brother Charles Degnan, and his wife Virginia of Unalakleet; her sisters Kathleen Downs of Palmer, Eva D. Merrifield of Anchorage, Ida M. Harden of Anchorage, and Frances A. Degnan of Unalakleet. She is also survived by many nieces and nephews.
She is preceded in death by her son Matthew J. Hartwick, father Frank Auvnue Degnan, mother Ada Quyan Degnan, brothers Gerald Degnan and Maurice Degnan, and sister Shirley Degnan.