Birch bark texture.

Ahtna Kanas Summer 2021

Love Just Never Dies: a Granddaughter’s Tribute

Roy Tansy Sr. was honored posthumously as the Board Member of the Year at the 48th Annual Meeting of Shareholders. 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. The following is a tribute from his granddaughter Emma Tansy.

My grandpa loved chocolate bars. Every week he would give us a large Hershey’s bar. He was one of the most interesting people I’ve ever known in my life.

He passed away because of COVID-19 complications on January 10, 2021.

My grandpa was born in 1934. After my grandma died in 2009, my grandpa lived alone in Cantwell. He moved to Fairbanks to live with us in 2015 because his health was deteriorating and he was up here a lot for doctor appointments.

The last couple of years, he was diagnosed with dementia and could sometimes be grumpy. He was high risk in almost every COVID category. In January, he got COVID-19 and two days later he was going to get an antibody treatment. Instead, he had to be admitted to the ER because his blood pressure and oxygen level were dangerously low. He never left the hospital. Four days later, COVID pneumonia had caused his organs to start to shut down and he died.

COVID-19 infected our entire family. My parents, my siblings, and I all tested positive as well but we recovered without any serious complications.

My grandpa loved sharing stories about his upbringing, hunting and gathering and living off of the land were the basis of his childhood. He loved telling us about these things.

He loved talking in Ahtna Athabascan to other Elders his age and would teach my siblings and I different words and phrases. Nunes Niic (pronounced “New-nah-ah-sneak”) is how you say “I love you;” Tsin’aen (pronounced “Chee-nan”) is how you say “thank you.” Those were two phrases we used daily in our house with my grandpa and we will continue to honor him by doing so.

“He had a big heart, a big laugh, a big smile and a lot of love for his family.”

My grandpa’s dad, Jake Tansy, worked closely with professors at UAF to preserve, record and write his Ahtna language as well as understand Ahtna traditional hunting and fishing trails. It was a normal occurrence for the Elders in our family to share their knowledge with others in hopes of preserving their language, knowledge and way of life.

My grandpa did a lot of big things in his life. He told me a lot of stories, and sometimes they were hard to believe. He told me about when he was invited to the White House, and he loved to talk about working on the Pipeline. Apparently, my grandfather even saw the motorcade where President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed.

He loved to travel and in his 60’s bought an airplane and would sometimes fly to places in Alaska just to say hi to friends/family or sometimes just to get pie and coffee from a good bakery.

In 2016, we took a road trip from Indiana to Hershey, Pennsylvania. After 9 hours of driving we arrived. The next day my grandpa took us to a Hershey-themed amusement park.

He had a big heart, a big laugh, a big smile and a lot of love for his family. We were very lucky to have him live with us for the past 5 years.

After my grandpa passed away, I got a dresser from his room. It was completely empty, but when I opened the drawer there was a single Hershey bar inside. Love just never dies.