Chief Donald Honea, Sr. passed away September 21, 2021 surrounded by family at the age of 90. Since 2008, he served as the First Traditional Chief of the Tanana Chiefs Conference region in interior Alaska. One of 17 children, Chief Honea was born August 20, 1931 in Ruby to the late Margaret and Bill Honea. He attended school in Eklutna and married Clara McCarty in 1949. They lived in Kokrines living the “old way”- off the land trapping, fishing and using dogs for winter travel. Together Chief Honea and Clara had 14 children.
Before retiring, he worked for the State of Alaska DOT for 35 years as an equipment operator and foreman. Chief Honea was also a founder of the Ruby Native Council and Dineega Corporation. He served as president for 20 years of the Dineega Corporation, served on the local Community School Committee for 30 years, served on the City Council for about 25 years, and was both mayor and council member of Ruby. He also served on the boards of Doyon, Tanana Chiefs Conference, Koyukon Development and RurAL CAP. He was also an original board member of the Yukon Koyukuk School District where he served as chairman.
In addition to his leadership, Chief Honea also was a dog musher and had run the Iditarod Sled Dog Race seven times.
Chief Honea was the anchor of the family, with his open home, words of wisdom, never ending love and strong faith in God. Although a big part of our hearts are missing it brings comfort that he told his loved ones “Dont be sad, I’m going to heaven” and that we will see him again one day. He was extremely loved by many and known as “Gramps” to his beloved grandchildren.Chief Honea is survived by his wife: Clara Honea, siblings: Leroy Honea and Bobby Honea. children: Glenn Honea, Donald Honea Jr. (Annie), John “Billy” Honea, Wayne “Rocky” Honea, Rose Marie “Tudi” Ryder (Mark), Marilyn Johnson (Al), Karen Honea, Dawn Greenway, Daryl Honea and Raelene Wright (Darren). He is also survived by many family members throughout Alaska and the lower 48 whom he loved dearly.
He is preceded in death by his parents Margaret and John Honea, his siblings, Roger Honea, Clay Honea, Patricia (Honea) Rounds, Dexter Honea, Wheeler Honea, Margaret (Honea) Atkins, Mabel Honea, Andrew Honea, Arnold Honea, Jeb Honea, Bonnie Honea and Boyd Honea. His children: Dale Honea, Ronald Honea, Marvin Honea, Duane Honea, Joyce Cleaver, son-in-law Darrell Greenway and daughter-in-law Shirley. His grandchildren: Kilburn Cleaver, Todd Honea, Stephanie Bennis, Maxine Kangas and Kenneth Pitka II.