Benedict A. Snowball
After fighting cancer with all his strength, Benny died peacefully in his sleep on November 19, 2018. Benny, the oldest to Timothy Sr. and Mamie Snowball, was born on March 17, 1942 in Stebbins, Alaska.
Benny went to Mt. Edgecumbe, where teachers noticed his artistic ability and recommended him to the newly opened Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe, NM where he honed his skills as an artist. He graduated in 1963 and did post graduate work until he left to Fort Polk, LA for basic training in the Army Reserve.
He returned to Stebbins in 1968, where he met and married his wife Mary. In the 1970s, they moved to Anchorage where he worked as a drafter for various oil companies, he competed in the World Eskimo Indian Olympics (WEIO), and was a judge at the Native Youth Olympics (NYO). He joined his first dance group “Urban Natives United” which re-ignited his passion for Eskimo dancing.
In the 1980s, Benny decided to follow his passion for art and dancing by working in the school district teaching young students’ soapstone carving, Yupik dancing, and drum-making. He also taught drum-making and soapstone carving at various Native youth camps. At this time he also started a Yupik dance troupe called “The Greatland Dancers” with William and Marie Tyson, which was dedicated to keep Alaska Natives in touch with their Native heritage. In the 1990s, he and David Chanar began another Yupik dance troupe called “Kicaput Singers and Dancers.”
Benny was always involved with different dance groups because of his love of singing, dancing and drumming. He enjoyed learning new dances and spreading his culture with others in the community. His enthusiasm of sharing his culture enabled him to travel worldwide. His sculptures and drums are proudly displayed across the world.
Benny was passionate about NYO, and he coached athletes and judged the competitions. He was a part of the group that initiated the Junior Native Youth Olympics. He was the Head Official of NYO for many years until he retired. He was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the State NYO in April 2018.
He was a mentor to many and has left a mark on their lives through drum-making, carving, NYO or dance groups.
Benny is predeceased by his parents Mamie and Timothy, and granddaughter Rei’ana. He is survived by his wife Mary, daughters Kathryn, Shana (Ghito), Holly (Ray), son Sean and ten grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 1, 2018 at Saint Anthony Catholic Church, 825 Klevin Street in Anchorage at 1:00 p.m. with a potluck reception to follow.