Dominique Marie Marcel Collet, of Homer, Alaska passed away on May 2nd, 2023, at age 68 in Seward, after a tenacious perseverance of life that came with a diagnosis of early-onset Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Despite these debilitating diseases, he was able to thrive for another twenty five years after diagnosis, aided by a brain stimulation implant that prolonged his quality of life for an additional fifteen years.
Dominique was born in Cologne, Germany of August 17th, 1954, to his French mother Marie-Therese Bailly, who was nurturing and supportive, and his Belgian father Gustave Collet, who was a decorated WWII hero for hiding Jewish children. Dominique spent his first years in Brussels, Belgium. Much of his early life was devoted to his passions for art and nature. As a young man, he set out in the world to find people with whom he shared similar life views. He soon found himself among the Laplanders of Finland, and then traveled through Scandinavia, ultimately landing in New York. He bicycled across northern Canada to Alaska, always staying and finding the most comfort with the Indigenous people of each area.
Arriving in Alaska in 1978, he found a niche within the University of Alaska community in Fairbanks. He journeyed to Newtok and lived amongst the Yup’ik, where he found Pauline Charlie, the future mother of his three children. After a brief hiatus from Alaska to his homeland, he returned to Alaska and was married in Hope, then moved to Anchorage and bought a school bus to house his young family. He moved his family to Sterling, where he built a small cabin, followed shortly by his dream home, where he raised the children until they were grown. After his illness made living on his own difficult, he moved to Homer where he enjoyed his remaining years with his children and their families.
Accomplishing much in his beautiful life, his love for his children and grandchildren knew no bounds and were his personal greatest accomplishment and joy.
Dominique’s legacy will live on through his love for nature; mushrooms, plants, and insects in particular. These are embodied in his many published works as well as his illustrations in books of local flora and bivalves. His book Insects of South-Central Alaska is well regarded by naturalists and is the only insect identification guide specifically for southern Alaska. His two hand-illustrated willow identification guides are valuable tools widely used in streambank revegetation and other wildlife habitat projects.
Dominique was a finish carpenter by trade, and was well appreciated for his attention to detail. In this work, as in many facets of his life, he completed each task with perfection and pride. He never said, “I wish,” this was never something that made sense to him. If he wanted anything bad enough to ‘wish’ for it, it was something he did.
Dominique is survived by his sister Marie-Francoise Collet of Mouscron, France; his brother Philippe Collet and wife Toum, with his nephews Louis, Thomas, and Theophille of Valigny, France; his brother Pierre Collet and wife Catherine Vandenbousche, with his nieces Lison, Mathilde, and Edith the mother of his great nephew Balthazar of Brussels, Belgium; his daughter Crystal Collet, her husband Brian Blankenship, and his granddaughters Laela Blankenship, and Marcella Blankenship of Homer; his son Daniel Collet of Ventura, California, his grandson Alexander Collet and grandson’s mother Crystal Locke of Kenai; his adopted daughter Nicole Collet and grandson Paxton Coats of Homer; and many other cousins and their children in Europe, along with many exceptional friends and colleagues all over the world. He is preceded in death by his dear mother Marie-Therese Bailly, his father Gustave Collet, and Uncles and Aunts who will remain cherished always.
His ashes will be scattered around the world, as he was well known for many travels and adventures. He had a spirit for nature and knowledge and continued both for as long as he was able. He will be incredibly missed by those he left behind, and remembered for the fires ignited within all whom he touched. He was truly a wellspring of knowledge and inspiration.
It would be an honor for his family and friends if you would join us for a celebration of life on Saturday July 1st, at the Bluffview Lodge, 135 Bunnell Ave, Homer, Alaska at 5pm. A chance to share what each learned from him, there will be much to discuss, and we will all come away knowing more. Text Crystal at (907)775-1494 for any additional information.
If you would like to do something to honor Dominique, please consider making a donation in lieu for flowers to one of the endeavors that he personally supported: Doctors Without Borders, Amnesty International, NAACP, St Jude’s, Greenpeace, or National Geographic Magazine.