Lynette M. Clark, aka “Yukon” or “Yukon Yonda,” 73, of Fox, died peacefully on Sunday, May 17, at her home less than a week after a diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer.

Alaska’s political observers remember her as a longtime activist with the Alaska Independence Party. But she was much more to many people.

Yukon was born Lynette Marie Stinson on Aug. 9, 1946, in Watseka, Illinois, and grew up in Kankakee County, Illinois, in a wide-ranging, fun-loving family. She finished high school and immediately joined the Air Force, yearning to leave the corn fields for the big world.

Yukon lived not just one, but many lives: USAF Airman, switchboard operator, fashion buyer, pipeline construction camp maid, a bronzed bikini-wearing wife in Rio de Janeiro, bartender, homesteader, gold mine camp cook and laundress, mining partner and wife, heavy equipment operator, foster mother, politician, community organizer and speaker.

She participated in every notable protest against what she felt were attacks on Alaskans’ rights to self-govern, and carved a unique place in history. In the 1980s, she served as aide to Alaska Independence Party founder Joe Vogler, and more recently as party president.

As a tourism speaker at Eldorado Gold Mine and later at the Gold Dredge 8 outside Fairbanks, she was the face and voice of a REAL gold miner for many thousands of visitors over her 27 years between the two venues. She starred in the vacation memories and photos of strangers from all over the world.

She was a surrogate mother, a grandmother figure, a shoulder to cry on, a rock for those who needed friendship, a gift-giver, and a limitless source of love. She didn’t enjoy organized religion, but again before her death, she proclaimed Jesus as her Lord and looked forward to eternity in heaven and reuniting with those who’ve gone before.

As one cousin voiced, “She squeezed about the most life out of these years that anybody could. She was a force of nature, adventurous, a workaholic and an ideologue, a woman of ardent enthusiasms, and she loved this family right down to our molecules. So comforting to read it confirmed here that she knew the Lord. Brace yourself, St. Peter.”

Yukon was preceded in death by her parents, Phyllis M. Walsh, nee Larrigan, of Bourbonnais, Illinois, and Lawrence W. Stinson Sr., of Fairbanks, and stepmother Aviva J. Stinson, of Fairbanks. Survivors include two brothers, William (Pam) Stinson, of Sherman, Texas, and Micheal (Julie Sigwart) Stinson, of Carpinteria, Calif.; sister Patricia “Tricia” (Perry) Brown, of Anchorage; sister-friend, Erleen Enoka, of Kaunakakai, Hawaii; and two half-brothers, Lawrence (Elizabeth) Stinson Jr., of Anchorage, and John (Rachel) Stinson, of Anchorage; and half-sister, Theresa (Jeff) Wilson, of Anchorage; foster daughter Tammi Allen, of Fairbanks; paternal uncles Gerald Stinson, of Bloomington, Indiana, and Conrad (Donna) Stinson, of Evansville, Indiana; maternal aunt Patricia Parbs, of Bourbonnais, Illinois; numerous deeply loved cousins, nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and many more that she surrogately mothered or grandmothered.

Yukon will be interred at Northern Lights Cemetery in Fairbanks in the Veterans’ Niche. A celebration of life is in planning at the Gold Dredge 8 site for June 21.

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