Ralph “Pirciq” Ivanoff
Fisherman extraordinaire, Ralph Ivanoff “Pirciq” was born June 12, 1923 to Paul and May Ivanoff in Shaktoolik, Alaska. The eldest son of 10 children he grew up in many communities across the State of Alaska while his parents were teaching at BIA schools.
Ralph later attended school in Eklutna before furthering his education in a trade school.
Ralph and his first wife, Laura, had six children, raising them in Nome and Saint Michael. In Nome, he worked as an airplane mechanic and loaded supplies for miners at Granite Mountain. He continued to provide for his family in St. Michael by working in the shipyard and on tugboats.
In the early 1950s, Ralph and Veronica settled in Unalakleet and had eight children. He continued his work in the airline industry, working for AK Star Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Wien Airlines as a cargo handler before retiring.
On September 1, 1974 Ralph and Millie were married. Together, they raised Robin, Dean Peterson and their granddaughter, Dawn. Ralph and Millie spent many years in the outdoors and traveling outside of Alaska, as he acquired lifetime pass privileges with Alaska Airlines.
Ralph was an avid subsistence hunter, fisher and gatherer. His passion and love for the outdoors was obvious to those who witnessed his countless hunting and fishing adventures. Ralph loved to share his knowledge and stories with family and friends, near and far. As a young adult living on Nunivak Island, he was a very successful trapper providing for his family with the furs he sold. He enjoyed teaching his children the subsistence way of life through many camping, hunting and fishing trips. He often brought his boys out hunting, teaching them the proper way to hunt ugruk, walrus, caribou, moose, small game and birds, and continued hunting and fishing well into his 90s.
Ralph was the longest commercial salmon fisherman in the Norton Sound, beginning his fishing career in the late 1950’s before the fishery became recognized by the state in 1961. After 58 years of fishing, Ralph concluded his final season in 2019 at the age of 96.
Ralph had a nickname for many, had a great sense of humor, and laughed and teased those dearest to him in the community. He had the ability to speak and understand most Native languages and dialects from Bristol Bay to Barrow and had valued friendships in all locations.
We will miss his genuine love of life and his cherished wisdom.
Ralph is survived by his wife of 47 years, Millie Ivanoff; children Henry (Yvonne, Isabelle-In Memoriam, Barbara-In Memoriam), Weaver (Lucia), Burkher (Huda), Herb (Heidi, Lena-In Memoriam), Larry (Maggie), Jerry (Brenda), Doris, Steve (Zoe-In Memoriam), Galen, Rick, Dean (Treca), and Art; sister Eva Ryan; 44 grandchildren; 107 great grandchildren; and 17 great-great grandchildren.
He is preceded in death by his parents Paul and May Ivanoff; children Irene and Paula Mae; siblings Clarence Towarak Sr., Myrtle Garrison, Johnny Ivanoff, Emma Moses, Paul Ivanoff II, Henrietta Hansen, Fena Bunch, Laurina Ryan, and Glenn Ivanoff.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”- 1st Corinthians 13:13