A map of Alaska with the Kodiak region highlighted.
Organization: Senior Citizens of Kodiak
City: Kodiak
Region: Kodiak
Program Area: Human Services \ Senior services
Grants Received:
2016: $23,270  2004: $307,649
2015: $25,000  2003: $18,309
2012: $14,675  2001: $20,000
2009: $10,600  1998: $6,000
2007: $25,000
2006: $29,524

Living longer with independence, honor and dignity

Mission Statement
Senior Citizens of Kodiak

To provide support services to those people 60 and over on Kodiak Island so that they might live longer with independence, honor and dignity.
Bobby Stamp was the other deckhand on the first boat I ever fished on, the Gladys R. This was back in 1975. Bobby had a direct gaze and was slightly bowlegged. He was just starting to go gray then. He told me he was from Chenega, up in Prince William Sound, but the tidal wave in '64 had messed up the village pretty bad, and they all had had to leave. "That's how I ended up down here in Kodiak," said Bobby.

We left the harbor on a sunny April morning and went down the east side of the island, the mountains white
against a blue sky. We anchored up in a quiet bay as evening fell around us. The light was going and it was hard to see. "What's that- off to the right?" I pointed.

A photo of the exterior of the Kodiak Senior Center.Spacer Image "A house," said Bobby. "Kaiugnak village. Before the tidal wave, people lived here, like Chenega."

He lit a cigarette and looked at me.

"You know, young man, what you see ain't off to the right. It's off to starboard. You're on a boat. Try to remember that."

One afternoon I was taking pictures as we passed by Two-Headed Island. There was an old wreck there, the white hull like a seashell on the black beach. "They caught on fire a few years ago," said Bobby. "Some of them didn't make it." When I wondered if maybe we could go ashore sometime to look over the wreck, Bobby took a drag on his cigarette. "Young man, maybe you should put that camera away and go chop some bait. If you're lucky, this is as close as you ever get to a wreck like that."

A group of seniors gathered at the Kodiak Senior Center.Spacer Image In later years, I used to see Bobby sometimes, sitting by the door of the old City Market, waiting for his ride back down to the Senior Center. His hair was white. He had a cane; diabetes had messed up his legs. They wouldn't let him smoke anymore. He had taken to carving delicately beautiful two-foot versions of the Aluutiq kayaks his grandfather had once built in Chenega. He sold the models for folding money.

Once, when my daughter was small, we ran into Bobby at the market. She stared at the thing in his old brown hands. "That's a baidarka," he said. (He pronounced it "baDARkey.") "That's how my people used to get around in the old days."

My daughter is eighteen now. Last spring we found ourselves in the "Looking Both Ways" Aluutiq cultural exhibit at the Smithsonian, in Washington. On a wall, in twelve inch letters, was this: "'I remember the ladies sitting in the houses, laughing and sewing. You know, everybody helped everybody,' Bobby Stamp." A little further on there were pictures of old Chenega, and Kaiugnak before the tidal wave. I could hear Bobby's voice in the soft light of an evening thirty years ago- "Young man, you need to pay more attention. You could learn if you just open your eyes."

Toby Sullivan's work has appeared in the Anchorage Press, Alaska magazine, We Alaskans magazine and several anthologies about Alaska. He writes and fishes commercially in Kodiak, Alaska.