Ahtna Elder Roy Tansy, Born At Historic Valdez Creek On The Denali Highway, Passes Away January 10th

Devoted To A Life Of Service & To His Beloved Wife, Irene  Irene & Roy Tansy at a Chistochina potlatch. (Photo, Doyle Traw) Ahtna El...

Devoted To A Life Of Service & To His Beloved Wife, Irene 

Irene & Roy Tansy at a Chistochina potlatch. (Photo, Doyle Traw)

Ahtna Elder Roy Tansy Sr. passed away at the age of 86 on January 10, 2021 at the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Roy Tansy was born in 1934 at Valdez Creek, on the Denali Highway. He was a member of the Native Village of Cantwell (Yedatene Na – “River behind the mountain”) and the Naltsiine (Sky) clan.

Roy was married for 41 years to the love of his life, the late Irene Widmark Tansy, a well liked, well known, soft-spoken and dedicated Copper Valley schoolteacher who baked birthday cakes for her students. She passed away in 2009, leaving him devastated and looking forward to the day they could reunite. Irene was a Tlingit, from a prominent Ketchikan family. Roy and Irene raised their three children in Copper Center: Carmel Tansy Read, Roy J. Tansy Jr. and Douglas Tansy. 

A beloved former Ahtna, Inc., president and veteran board member, Mr. Tansy was passionate about helping the next generation to take over the company and passing on cultural and traditional ways. He grew up hunting and fishing in the Brushkana area near Cantwell and credited his dad, Jake Tansy, with teaching him traditional ways of living off the land. Jake Tansy was one of the last great experts of the Ahtna language and culture. Jake Tansy, Roy's father, had an encyclopedic understanding of the extensive networks of Ahtna traditional hunting and fishing trails, and mapped and shared that information with the University of Alaska for posterity. Roy Tansy's mother was Lilly Tansy. 

Roy Tansy at a potlatch.  (Journal file photo)


Roy Tansy worked in the oil and gas industry for nearly 30 years and was a member of the 302 Operators Union. He stood up for Ahtna’s rights when it came to development in the region, such as the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System which crosses over 197 miles of Ahtna’s traditional territory. As he so elegantly put it, “We shall prevail for it is our land and our cause is just!” 

Roy Tansy encouraged regional development projects that would provide benefits to shareholders, promote growth in the region and bring opportunities to the Ahtna people. Ken Johns, chairman of the Ahtna, Inc. Board of Directors remarked, “We will be forever grateful for Roy’s leadership and forethought and will carry on his noble work for the benefit of future generations of Ahtna people.”  

Roy Tansy had a long life of community service.  He was on the Ahtna, Inc. Board of Directors off and on for 40 years, most recently in 2018 – as well as on many Ahtna subsidiary boards and committees. He also served as the president of Ahtna, Inc. (1979) and Ahtna Development Corporation. 

Roy Tansy was heavily involved in the Ahtna region as an Elder advisor for the Ahtna Heritage Foundation, member of the Cantwell Joint Successor Village Organization and past board member of the Native Village of Cantwell, Fairbanks Native Association and Tanana Chiefs Conference. He was involved in early warning protection for the US Air Force during the Cold War and worked for the Alaska Road Commission. 

Roy Tansy volunteering on a community project, 1989. (Journal file photo)

He also had a long career working on the Trans Alaska Pipeline System during its construction in 1974 up until his retirement from the 302 Operators Union in 2002 and held an Associate Accounting Degree from Sawyer Business College in Los Angeles, CA. 

His family said that Roy Tansy died after contracting COVID-19.  Viewing will be from 4 to 7 pm on Friday January 1tth at Hamilton Acres Baptist Church, 138 Farewell Avenue in Fairbanks, with a service following. Final visitation, service and burial will be noon to 3 pm on January 17th in his hometown of Cantwell on the Parks Highway.  



Roy Tansy, February 2018. (Photo, Linda Weld)




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