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Anchorage resident Raymond "Gookie" Joseph Demientieff, 77, died July 23, 2007, at home with his family by his side.
Visitation will be at 9 a.m. Tuesday at Evergreen Memorial Chapel, 737 E St., with a service at 10 a.m. Burial will follow at Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery. A potluck celebrating his life will take place for family and friends at the Alano Club, 3103 Spenard Road.
Ray was born Nov. 16, 1929, in Holy Cross, the youngest of 16 children born to Petruska and Nathalia Demientieff. As a child, Ray was an altar boy and in the choir; this led to his interest in music and later to his most gratifying career, his family wrote. In the mid-1940s, he worked on the steamer Nenana and later with the Alaska Railroad. From 1948 to 1950, he served in the U.S. Army.
His family wrote: "Being a self-taught musician, he never knew how to read music, but played by ear. His talent was capturing the audiences' attention playing in the band Alaska Hillbillies from the 1950s through early 1960s, which included a brief stint with Johnny Cash in late 1959." During this time, he met his future wife of 50 years, Pauline Tobuk, in Fairbanks. They fell in love and were married Sept. 14, 1956. During his musical career, Ray traveled to many places in Alaska including Dillingham, Anchorage and Seward. In 1961, the family moved to Kodiak and lived there until 1990.
Ray had many careers ranging from commercial fisherman to longshoreman. "While living in Kodiak, Ray and Polly's house was always full of their children, friends from the neighborhood and many others who were made to feel welcome," his family wrote. After leaving Kodiak, they moved to Anchorage, where Ray spent most of his remaining years.
Ray enjoyed hunting, trapping, singing, playing the guitar, playing cribbage and commercial clam digging with his family. He also had a lifelong affection for all animals, especially for his pit bull-wire haired terrier mix, Pee-Wee.
Survivors include his wife, Pauline; children, John, Raymond, Peter, Candy and Nicky Demientieff, all of Anchorage; grandchildren, Angela Ferguson, Dana Ferguson, Samuel Ferguson, Tenaya Demientieff, Lisa Ferguson and Peter Demientieff; nieces, Marie Randall, Margie Edwards and Frieda Demientieff; five great-grandchildren; and many other relatives and friends.
Published in the Anchorage Daily News on 7/29/2007.
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