John Active was a revered Yup’ik storyteller, translator, and KYUK-radio host. At his 40-day feast on Friday, the people who loved him took a moment to remember him as a friend. At least 100 community members filed into Bethel’s ONC building on Friday to eat akutaq, commemorate John’s life, and say goodbye.
"When you get to know someone, they become a part of you," said John's brother Oscar Active. "I know everybody has a little bit of something in their hearts from John. I know I do. He made us laugh. He made us cry. But he touched each and every one of us."
John’s family remembered him as an energetic and devoted uncle. Oscar Active's family shared a fish camp with him for many years. "When we’d come back to fish camp, he’d have something new for my kids to laugh at when my kids were small," he said. One time, they found something floating at their fish camp's bank. "[John] had made a ship out of coffee cans and called it the Titanic!" Active said, laughing.
John was like that with children. He knew how to make his nieces and nephews laugh and was willing to be patient with them.
"When I was a youngster and had small muscles, he took me out fishing," his nephew Wilson "The Magic Man" Green remembered. He said he got nervous when John didn't turn on the boat's motor. John grinned and pointed to the oars. "‘You’re gonna use your muscles!" he told Green. "Become a Tarzan Boy!"
"And he taught me about oaring," Green said, "because if you use your motor the vibration will scare the fish. My uncle John Active: one cool guy."
"I thank God for how long he let him stay with us," said Oscar Active. "Sixty-nine years. They’re not all wonderful years, but very memorable. I think the love covered all the pain. And that’s how it should be with all of us."