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Obituary: Margaret Gross-Hope, Koodeina.át, 88

 

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Margaret Gross-Hope, Koodeina.át

Margaret June DeWitt Gross-Hope, 88, "walked into the forest" on June 3, 2016, in Sitka, Alaska.

She was born to Forrest and Martha (James) DeWitt on June 3, 1928, in Wrangell, Alaska, the first of seven children. Her Tlingit name is Koodeina.át. She was raised in a traditional native house and her first language was Tlingit.

She was from the S'iknaxh.ádi clan from Wrangell. She was a child of the Yaxht'etaan through Forrest DeWitt, Sr. (Héenak'w Taax') who was from the Big Dipper House in Juneau and his father Haines DeWitt (Sháka.átgi) was one of the founders of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, he was Wooshkeetaan from the Thunderbird House also in Juneau making her a Wooshkeetaan grandchild. Her mother was Martha [James] DeWitt (Seeteenáxh) whose parents Adam James (Tayeedéi) was from the Dog Salmon Clan of Kake, the Sukhteeneidí and Mary James (Láxhdujeex').

After completing the 8th grade, she was determined to attend high school. She made the decision to leave home and move back to Wrangell to attend the Wrangell Institute. When her parents found out about her plans, they chose to support her and packed up the rest of the family and moved to Wrangell.

She started working in the canneries at the age of twelve, where she picked shrimp by hand before they had the automatic shrimp picking machines. In the 1940s, she was Wrangell's last telephone operator, before that too became automated.

She met and married Daniel Gross Sr. in Wrangell, and together they raised seven children. She did not let this stop her from guiding others on the importance of education. She worked at the Wrangell Institute, directing the Arts and Crafts Program. She also worked as the program director for the Wrangell Cooperative Association from 1976 to 1982.

After her kids were grown, Margaret fulfilled a lifelong dream and moved to Sitka in 1982 to attend Sheldon Jackson College. While attending, she carried 23 credits, maintained a 3.8 GPA and was named to the Dean's List. In 1985 Margaret graduated with an Associate's Degree. During that time, she was asked by Ester Littlefield to work as her apprentice. After Ester retired, Margaret worked as an Instructor, Demonstrator and Interpreter at the Southeast Alaska Native Cultural Center in the National Park Service in Sitka.

It was during this time that she met Fred Hope and they were married in Hawaii in 1984. They continued to make their home in Sitka, and devoted much of their time to the ANB and ANS Camps where Margaret honed her skills and became a Master Regalia Artist, specializing in beadwork. She made her own patterns for sewing her beautiful native regalia. Her original work can be seen in museums throughout Alaska, including Wrangell, Sitka and Anchorage. One of her greatest accomplishments are the solid beaded Sitka Rose mocassins on display at the Smithsonian.

She was involved in many organizations and spent countless hours volunteering throughout her life. Margaret's mother, Martha DeWitt, was one of the founding members of ANS Camp #1 in Wrangell. She joined ANS at the age of 5, and was inducted as a Life Member of ANS Camp #4. She held the office of President for ANS Camp #1 in Wrangell and ANS Camp #4 in Sitka, was the treasurer for the Wrangell T&H Council, the Grand Treasurer for the ANS Grand Camp. She sat as a board member for the following organizations: Wrangell Chamber of Commerce, Stikine Native Organization, Wrangell Cooperative Association, Women in Transition, and was a member/delegate for T&H Central Council. She chaired the 4th of July Committee in Wrangell, was a representative to the State Fair for the Lion's Club, and was the JOM Project Director in Wrangell. Margaret was involved in the Home League, the American Legion Auxiliary, the Wrangell Hospital Auxiliary, Women of the Moose, Indian Education, St. Phillips Vestry, and spent many years volunteering for the annual ANS Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners in Sitka.

She was preceded in death by her daughter Janette Cahoon and her brothers Charles, Haines, Jonathon, Forrest Jr, and Edwin DeWitt.

Margaret is survived by her husband Fred of Sitka, children Peggy (Mike) Amiotte of Piedmont, S.D., Jodi Silvester of Honolulu, Hawaii, Daniel (Cathy) Gross and Darrell (Dee) Gross of Wrangell, Greg Gross and Peachie Wolff of Sitka, brother Matthew DeWitt of Anchorage, Alaska, twelve grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews and friends.

An ANB/ANS memorial will be Tuesday, June 21 at 6:00 p.m. at the ANB Founders Hall in Sitka. The Presbyterian Service will be June 22 at 1:00 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church in Sitka, followed by internment in the National Cemetery at 2:30 pm.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory can be made to the ANS Grand Camp Scholarship Fund.

 

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