CIRI Mourns the Recent Passing of Former Board Directors

Original CIRI enrollees and former CIRI Board Directors Gosta Dagg, William “Bill” English, Helen (Nagy) Josefsen and Leo Stephan recently passed away. They leave a legacy of service to CIRI Shareholders and Descendants, and we send our condolences to their families.

May 9, 1939–April 20, 2023

CIRI Shareholder Gosta Dagg (Yup’ik) passed away April 20 at home in Everett, Wash. He was 83.

Mr. Dagg served on the CIRI Board of Directors from 1974 to 2006. He was born in Anchorage to Josephine Helena Dagg and Gosta Svante Emil Natt Och Dag. After graduating high school in Anacortes, Wash., he worked as a cook on a cannery tender in Bristol Bay to support himself through business and law degrees from the University of Washington.

His career included stints at the Washington State Office of the Attorney General and the Bureau of Indian Affairs Puget Sound Agency, as well as in private practice. Once retired, Mr. Dagg enjoyed travel, golf and fishing. The house he designed and built on Garrison Bay in the San Juan Islands became the gathering spot for extended get-togethers with family and friends, creating many happy memories.

Mr. Dagg is survived by his wife of 55 years, Carole Estby Dagg; children, Emily Dagg and Rolf Dagg; three grandsons; and siblings, Barbara Carlsen and Joan Bunten. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Providence Hospice and Home Care of Snohomish County.

Jan. 31, 1923–Jan. 11, 2023

CIRI Shareholder William “Bill” Deshay English (Inupiat) passed away Jan. 11 at home in Anchorage. He was 99.

Mr. English served on the CIRI Board of Directors from 1988 to 2006 and 2007 to 2010. He was born in Coldfoot, Alaska, to Agorak and William English, and grew up along the Koyukuk River before being sent to live with his father’s family in California as a teenager. He graduated from high school in California, after which time he returned to Alaska and enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving from 1943 to 1945. Following World War II, he pursued his childhood dream of becoming a pilot.

Mr. English held the distinction of being the first Alaska Native commercial airline pilot, the first Alaska Native person to earn an airline transport rating and the first Alaska Native person to be designated as an FAA pilot examiner. He flew commercially for 37 years and was honored as an Aviation Legend by the Alaska Air Carriers Association in 2012 and inducted into the Alaska Aviation Museum’s Hall of Fame in 2014. He received the CIRI Elder of the Year award in 2019.

Mr. English co-founded the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics in the 1960s and served as its first master of ceremonies. In addition to the CIRI Board, he served on the Cook Inlet Housing Authority board of commissioners.

Mr. English is survived by his children, Sharon and son Bill Jr.; grandchildren, Gretta and Wiley; and numerous relatives in Alaska and California. His family is eternally grateful to the many individuals and organizations that helped care for him in his final months, including Providence Hospice Alaska, Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska and Veterans Affairs of Alaska.

April 8, 1934–Oct. 15, 2022

CIRI Shareholder Helen (Nagy) Josefsen (Yup’ik) passed away Oct. 15, 2022, at Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna, Alaska. She was 88.

Ms. Josefsen was a founding member of the CIRI Board of Directors, having served from 1972 to 1974. She was born in McGrath, Alaska, to Helen and Leroy Crawford. The family moved from Fairbanks to Seldovia, Alaska, when Josefsen was 11. She was an accomplished Alaska Native multidisciplinary artist whose mediums included beading, fiber arts, painting and woodwork. She owned beauty salons in both Homer and Seldovia and was involved in the restoration of Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in Seldovia and helped establish the Seldovia Museum.

Ms. Josefsen is survived by her children, Marilyn Nagy, Trinket Gallien, Laurence Nagy and Louis “Lou” Nagy Jr.; grandchildren, Laurie Gallien, Naomi Gallien, Kristy Gallien, Nolan Nagy, Forest Nagy and Sterling Nagy; and two great-grandchildren.

Oct. 19, 1929–May 28, 2023

CIRI Shareholder Leo Stephan (Athabascan) passed away May 28 at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. He was 93.

Mr. Stephan served on the CIRI Board of Directors from 1974 to 1996. He was born in Eklutna Village, Alaska, to Mary Elizabeth and George Stephan. His grandfather was Simeon Ezi, the last chief of Upper Cook Inlet. He worked as a commercial fisherman and auto mechanic and for the Alaska Railroad and City of Anchorage. In addition to serving on the CIRI Board, he was a board member and president of Eklutna Inc.

Mr. Stephan lived a subsistence lifestyle and taught at the Native Village of Eklutna culture camps. Later in life, he enjoyed sport fishing and camping.

Mr. Stephan is survived by his sons, Lee, Lester and Lewis Stephan; daughters, Gloria Lorah, Mary Charmley, Angela Waskey and Raven Stephan; 16 grandchildren; 29 great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; and several nephews and nieces. The family wishes to thank Providence’s ER nurses, the 5N medical staff and Dr. Cody Augdahl. Special thanks to friend and home visiting nurse Wayne Christiansen.