Timothy M. Towarak
Timothy Martin Towarak was born to Clarence Sr. and Guerie Towarak on November 24, 1944, in Unalakleet, Alaska. He departed with the sunrise on February 4, 2019 in the comfort of his home.
Tim grew up in Unalakleet and was dedicated and confirmed at the Unalakleet Covenant Church. He graduated from Covenant High School in 1963.While in high school, he was the Student Council President and began a life of service. He then attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks for two years before being drafted to the Army. In 1980, Tim graduated from UAF with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance.
In Vietnam, Tim was stationed as a military police officer in the 127th Company. While serving, his appendix burst and he was sent to Japan for three months to recover. He was honorably discharged in 1968.
His brother Ambrose’s family went missing in Fairbanks, where his sister Isabelle and family lived, so he went there to help search for Bing.
After Vietnam, he moved to Nome to work for Bob Reddaway’s hardware store.
Tim was a businessman at heart. From the sixth grade, he worked his first job, hauling honey buckets for school teacher Mrs. Stamey, earning 10 cents a trip. Then he worked for Glancy at the Trading Post movie house. Later he volunteered to install the city water and sewer system with Paul Karaffa. He then moved to Seattle to work for ANICA (the Alaska Native Industries Cooperative Association Inc.) Afterward, he moved to Bethel to start the Bethel Native Store, where he met Rosalia Beans, who worked as a nurse. After marrying in St. Mary’s, they moved to Nome where he and Perry Mendenhall worked together to start Kawerak, Inc.
Tim’s early start in work would help him later as he helped incorporate the City of Unalakleet. He also served as mayor, city council member and city administrator. He was the first manager of the Unalakleet Native Corporation and worked as the Director of Facilities for the Bering Strait School District during the time when most of the schools were being built. He was a founding member of KNSA radio station.
Tim was also a statesman at heart. He was appointed by Governor Tony Knowles as the Special Assistant for Rural Affairs. Upon returning home from Juneau, he became the president and CEO of Bering Straits Native Corporation. He was instrumental in leading the company out of bankruptcy and creating a multimillion-dollar profit company. To this date, he is the second-longest serving BNSC board member.
Tim stepped down as president and CEO to serve as the U.S. Department of the Interior Federal Subsistence Board Chair where he fought for Alaska Native peoples’ subsistence rights. He also served as co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives for years with his good friend Albert Kookesh.
A large part of Tim’s life was centered around the outdoors. He was an avid hunter and fisherman. His earliest memories included squirrel hunting by dog sled in South River, hunting rabbits with Junie and riding inside his dad’s qayaq in the ocean. One of his favorite places to camp and caribou hunt was up the North River valley at Matthew’s camp and Heart Mountain.
In his professional life, he helped establish the Norton Sound Fish Cooperative in the early 1970s with Joe Reddington Sr. He initiated the Norton Sound herring fishery and, with Henry Ivanoff, introduced the local herring permit system as they saw mostly Lower 48 fishermen making a profit. He inserted the words “subsistence fishermen” into the CDQ language so that the Norton Sound region would be fully represented.
In his retirement years, he enjoyed spending time at his South River cabin with the love of his life Rose and family.
Tim taught the younger generation the subsistence lifestyle while also introducing them to the modern, technical lifestyle. He loved and put his family first. Above all, Tim served the Lord. He always had a heart to serve others and to make life better. All our lives are better thanks to Tim.
Quyana for all your hard work and service to our people. Peace to your memory.
Tim is survived by his wife Rose of 46 years. Children: Melissa Towarak, Ambrose “Bing” Towarak, Kathy (LA) Commack, Timayre Towarak. Grandchildren: Roberta Walker, Trenton Towarak, Payton Commack, Carter Commack, Paxson Commack, Laila Towarak and Brody Towarak. Siblings: Isabelle (Chester) Millett, Clarence “Junie” (Linda) Towarak, Sam (Nita) Towarak, Annabelle (Dave) Cunningham, Isaiah Towarak, Dennis Towarak, Cindy (Tom) Massie, and Willa (Gary) Eckenweiler. In-laws: Barbara Peratrovich, Liz (Mike) Joe, Patrick Jr. (Sophie) Beans, Flora Paukan, Francine (Fred) Nagel, Raymond (Denise) Beans, George (Geraldine) Beans, Francis Beans, Christopher (Marcie) Beans, Lillian (Clarence) Johnson, and Pam Tweto. Many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Tim is preceded in death by his parents: Clarence Sr. and Guerie Towarak. In-laws: Patrick Sr. and Irene Beans. Son Tyrone Towarak. Granddaughter Kieley Towarak. Brothers Ambrose (Helen) and Matthew Towarak, sister Clarabelle Nance (Louie III).
The family would like to express gratitude for the numerous condolences, and prayers and the food, flowers and gifts that were given to us. Thank you to our friends and relatives for your comfort. May God bless you richly.