Ann Spaeth

Obituary of Ann Jacqueline Spaeth

Ann Jacqueline Spaeth, age 61, of Kodiak, Alaska, passed away on February 4, 2022, after a brief but very brave battle with cancer. She was born in St. Cloud, MN but lived in Annapolis, MD, until her senior year in high school when her family moved back to St. Cloud. She graduated from the College of St. Benedict, in St. Joseph, MN, in 1983, where she met lifelong friends, many while playing her favorite sport of rugby. Ann developed a love of travel from an early age, becoming an in-country exchange student her junior year of high school, studying abroad in Spain, and after college she traveled throughout Europe with friends. She worked summers during college at the fisheries in Alaska and then moved to Kodiak Island, AK. The remote, rugged beauty of Kodiak, coupled with the people who call the island home, captured her heart, and she would spend most of her adult life there, raising her son Dakota. In recent years, she spent a winter in Madrid and one in the Canary Islands. She spoke Spanish and grabbed every opportunity to do so. She felt very strongly about people needing to travel, to understand the world. She often took time out of her world travels to visit her friends and family in Minnesota. Her Alaskan and college friends came to know her as Annie, and she was a great friend in many ways. A good friend knows all your best stories, a best friend has lived them with you. Her many friends in Alaska and Minnesota felt this way about Annie. She never missed a chance to share a laugh at life's absurdities, relish a great song with you, share a good book, cook you an extraordinary meal and text you a picture of the latest hot rocker, celebrity, or athlete. Ann loved music: from Elvis Costello to Joe Jackson and Lou Reed, from David Bowie to Prince to the Grateful Dead and to her girl Amy Winehouse, who she loved to belt it out with. From punk to new wave, to good rock to blues, reggae, and the latest rap - she loved it all. She loved to hike the Alaskan beaches and mountains with friends and never missed the opportunity to stop and admire the beauty. The bald eagles which thrive throughout the island brought her much joy along with the rainbows that often grace the northern rain forest. She was an educator, eagle feather finder, lover of the color purple, wearer of stylish skirts over pants and leggings, avid hiker, librarian with the mouth of a sailor, world traveler, beach glass connoisseur, painter, sunset, and sunrise collector, fishermen's friend, keeper of wisdom. Ann was a hard worker and in addition to always helping friends in need and volunteering for school events, she was an asset to all employers who were fortunate enough to have her as part of their team. In Alaska, she learned she could do hard things like working 20 hour shifts in canneries. She carried that knowledge of her capabilities on to whatever she set her mind to. Whether it was working in the fishing world, organizing school fundraisers, working at the women's crisis center, reinventing libraries, crushing it as a reading intervention specialist, raising her son Dakota by herself and with her community of friends, she did it well. She spent many years as a librarian in Kodiak's East Elementary School and created a lovely space to nurture and teach children when they spent time in the library. She spent countless hours volunteering and providing support to the sports team her son Dakota was involved with, from football to wrestling. Ann was a parent the team could count on. In recent years, she spent summers working in Larsen Bay, helping run a major remote fish processing plant in the roadless wilds of Alaska and was an integral part of the community. She started every day with a walk on the beach, often stopping to pick up shells, beach glass and feathers to add to her collection. It was this unwavering love of Kodiak Island and the wild Alaska salmon industry that made her the heart of office operations at the cannery and great friend to the fishermen. She kept people's spirits up, feeling lucky to just be in such beauty, despite the exhaustion and slight delirium that comes with the long hours of work. Josh, her boss said, "There is no one like her at Larsen Bay who has friends across the spectrum, from the cannery workers to the local villagers, to the boat skippers as well as their crews. It is as if she had been there forever to have so many deep connections, and she will be so missed." Ann is survived by her son, Dakota Wibbe (Kate Miller) of Fifty Lakes, MN; mother, Elizabeth Stoltz (Dave Hutcheson) of St. Paul, MN; sisters, Catherine Spaeth (Shaun McElhatton) of St. Paul, MN; Judith Coombs (Joe Coombs) of Shakopee, MN; Caroline Spaeth (James Rickman) of Los Alamos, NM; Margaret Freeman (Tim Freeman) of Bainbridge Island, WA; and brother, Thomas Spaeth of St. Paul, MN; four nephews and four nieces. She was preceded in death by her father Robert Spaeth. A celebration of her life will be held at the Spirit of Saint Stephen’s Catholic Community, 5011 31st Avenue South, Minneapolis at 2:00 pm on Saturday, March 5th and in Kodiak this summer. The service at St. Stephen’s will be live streamed for those who cannot attend in person. Contributions can be made in Ann's name to the Kodiak East Elementary School Library. Please send checks to Kodiak East Elementary PTA, 722 Miller Bay Road, Kodiak AK 99615. A donation button for online donations will be on the school's website soon. A celebration of her life will be held at the Spirit of Saint Stephens Catholic Community, 5011 31st Avenue South, Minneapolis at 2:00 pm on Saturday, March 5th and in Kodiak this summer. The service at St. Stephen's will be live streamed for those who cannot attend in person.
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