Obituary: Richard Rinehart Sr.
Richard Rinehart Sr, passed away peacefully just before noon Thursday, December 29th. He was a great father, grandfather, great-grandfather, husband, uncle, and a real good man. He was a respected elder and leader of his people. His passions were his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren (Rinehart’s, Powell’s, Churchill’s and Oliver), fishing and his organizations (ANB, American Legion, T&H, WCA and more). He loved his wife Joann and he loved Wrangell.
Richard led a long life with honor and dignity and he garnered respect wherever he went. As a member of the Greatest Generation who fought in World War II, he served on an Army tug in the Aleutian Chain stationed out of Adak.
His Tlingit name was Ya Kook; he was an elder and the leader of his Teeyhíttaan Clan. As such he was the caretaker for the Yéil Aan Kaawu Naa Shaadakoox (Leader of All Ravens Hat) the Teeyhíttaan Clan’s Crest Hat.
Although retired for 20 years, Richard had a busy life. He had retired as a Class A longshoreman from Wrangell Stevedoring. Fishing was more of a lifestyle from which he never retired. He started commercial fishing when he was 15; trolled throughout S.E. Alaska; gillnetted in Bristol Bay for 25 years and he seined on the Tiny Boy II and the Aurora Marie. While he found enjoyment in his profession, he found true joy fishing and working on his boat, the Ya Kook. He loved trolling his favorite spots around Wrangell for salmon.
When Richard wasn’t on the water he would often be seen in front of J&W’s working. He was also an avid outdoorsman, in years gone by; he used to deer and moose hunt and made several hunting trips up north in the Yukon. He was a devoted sports fan and enjoyed watching the Wrangell Wolves basketball, which probably reminded him of the years he spent playing basketball with the Wrangell Thunderbirds.
Richard was a generous man who would do anything he could to make our lives better. He achieved many accomplishments along the way and was well respected and admired. As a leader, he often took charge. Some of his community service consisted of being a life time member of the Alaska Native Brotherhood for over 60 years where he was the Camp 4 President and Treasurer for a number of years; he was also a Grand Camp officer serving as Grand Treasurer. Richard was a member of the American Legion Merle E Palmer Post 6 since 1945 and was Legionnaire of the year in 2000 and 2001 and also a past Post Commander. He was a board member of the Wrangell Cooperative Association where he was former President and held numerous delegate positions for Tingit and Haida in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.
If Richard thought he was right, he stuck to his convictions regardless of whom or how many were on the other side. We all admired his tenacity time and time again. He really kept trying to get things done no matter what it took. He never gave up and was very persistent. He taught us if we just believed in something strong enough and kept working for it; that eventually it would happen. This is how he did it: he would pick up the phone and start calling people; organizing his followers and convincing his adversaries. In the end, he was very proud of the Carving Shed and Shakes Island Restoration projects and bringing back his clan’s crest hat to Wrangell.
Richard was preceded in death by his father Harry Lloyd Rinehart; his mother Jessie Rinehart (Bell); his brothers Louis (Buddy), Albert and Lloyd; his sisters Nellie and Winifred Bauge.
Richard Rinehart Sr.
Richard left behind his loving wife Joann. Also children: Richard Rinehart Jr (Melissa), Daniel Rinehart, Amiee Rinehart, Richard Oliver (Virginia), Chet Powell Jr (Bejay), Jim Powell (Shannon), Carol Churchill (Randy), David Powell (Kim). He was proud to be Grandpa to numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He is survived by his sisters Dee Driscoll and Myrtle Noble both of whom live in California. He was uncle to numerous niece and nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.
A worship service was held Wednesday January 4, 2012 at Harbor Light Assembly of God Church, immediately followed by an American Legion Honor Guard Graveside Service and a reception at the American Legion Hall including the ANB Last Roll Call Service.
Memorial donations can be made to the Wrangell Carving Shed at First Bank.