Beloved family matriarch, sister, mother, and grandmother, Mary Jean Kaguna Yenney (Strutz) (Iñupiaq), 91, passed away on February 26, 2023 in her home in Anchorage, Alaska. Jean was born in Nome, Alaska on October 1, 1931 to Margaret Cecilia Becker and Frederick W. Yenney. Jean had fond memories of her childhood in Nome, going camping with her family to pick berries, playing with her siblings, and enjoying her mother’s baked goods. After the death of her mother in 1944, her father moved the family to Anchorage, and Jean worked at the Anchorage Times after school. She met the man who would later become her husband and father of her children and married him in 1949. In 1955, they homesteaded in Homer on Ohlson Mt. Road. Jean loved the homestead as it reminded her of Nome. She worked as a bookkeeper in Homer, on the slope, and a variety of other jobs. In 1992, Jean brought reindeer down from White Mountain to the homestead on a cargo plane and started the Kaguna Reindeer Ranch.
Throughout her life, Jean practiced subsistence berry picking, moose hunting, and fishing. She was an excellent markswoman and also a great bowler. Towards the end of her life she moved to Anchorage and would stay on the homestead in Homer during the summers. She had a ready smile, was generous, giving, and welcoming, and was always ready to lend a hand or a warm bed to family. She loved to play Skip-boo with her sisters, daughters, and grandchildren. She was a woman of many talents who taught those that knew her so much. She had many dogs in her life and loved them dearly. She will be greatly missed by her family, friends, and shih tzu Ruby. Jean was preceded in death by her mother and father; stepmother Patricia Ann Yenney; ex-husband Lloyd Strutz; sisters Alice Doyle, Peggy Perry, and Kay Downs; and brother Fred Yenney Jr. She is survived by her sister Velma Tonkin of Anchorage and her family; sister-in-law Lee Yenney of Homer and her family; daughters Sharon Strutz Norton, Debora Studnek, Margaret Strutz; son William Strutz; daughter-in-law Sue; grandchildren Bryan, Jonnie, Heather, William, Joshua, Rose, and Eric; and many great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life will be scheduled for July with the date and location to be announced later.