Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Paddock was tugboat operator, Native advocate


May 13, 2010

Charles ‘Snuffy’ Paddock, a tugboat captain and Native elder, died of cancer Friday in Juneau. He was 73. Friends and family members described him as a hard worker, wise leader and family man.

Paddock was born July 18, 1936 in Juneau to Joe and Liz Paddock. When he was two the family moved to Pelican, where his father worked a pile driver on the boardwalk. His father dubbed him ‘Snuffy’ for a black, wide-brimmed hat he wore similar to that of cartoon character Snuffy Smith.

Paddock attended school in Pelican and graduated from Sitka’s Sheldon Jackson High School in 1955. As a youth he worked for Pelican Cold Storage. Family members said he once set a record by moving 200 blocks of ice through a grinder in one day.

With his father and grandfather Jake Cropley, Paddock drove piles on docks from Craig to Skagway, communicating with hand signals over the din.

In 1957, he married high school sweetheart Mary Helen Clayton and they started a family that grew to five children. After the 1964 earthquake and a house fire that followed it, the family moved to Haines to be nearer to family members.

In Haines, Paddock joined Art Murphy in the tugboat business. For the next 53 years Paddock was a regional tug captain, often working with his wife and family aboard "Tugboat Mary," "Gei Sun," "North Star," "Fearless," and his favorite, "Lutak Pride." He also captained private yachts and delivered pleasure boats here from Washington state.

Ed Lapeyri was managing a sawmill at Jones Point when Paddock drove the mill tug, hauling logs from Letnikof. The mill tug was small and noisy, with a shallow draft and little freeboard. It could be operated only at high tide.

Lapeyri said Paddock twice sank the tug. "He lets the line (on the log raft) loose, and he’s running right at me full speed. He hit the bank, stopped and then stepped off the bow onto the beach and the tug just sank right there. I said, ‘Next time you sink it, you better do it in 50 fathoms. Quit sinking it in the river where we have to retrieve it,’" Laperyi said.

He blamed the sinkings on the unseaworthy rig and poor towing conditions, not the tug’s operator. "Snuffy was great to work with, and he was a very funny guy."

Paddock advocated for Native heritage programs and Native rights. He was among a delegation of leaders honored at the White House, where he met President Bill Clinton.

Paddock sought compensation for "landless" tribes, said friend David Berry. "He was constant in letting everyone know they had to be reverent and respectful. I can’t tell you how many meetings I was in where he kindly reminded youngsters you can’t listen with your mouth moving."

Paddock also served on the board of Lynn Canal Medical Corporation, which turned local health care services over to SEARHC. Fellow board member Chip Lende said, "He was a worker, because he had better things to do than sit in meetings. He came up with solutions and got things done… When things got emotional or people were upset, he kept a level head, just like a good tugboat captain."

Paddock enjoyed hunting, fishing, and spending time with family in the Chilkat Valley and Yukon Territory. He and Mary "Chickie" Paddock were married for 49 years when she died.

Paddock’s Tlingit name was "Shaagaa" and family members said he was named house leader of the Big Box house, Kóok  Hít  Sheetka Kaagwaantaan, at the 2004 ku.éexin Sitka. He was a child of the Lukaax.ádi or Raven Sockeye people.

In addition to his parents and wife, son Charles Paddock Jr. and sister Vivian Max preceded him in death. He is survived by sister Caroline O’Dell of Pelican and brother William of Juneau; sons Joe of Juneau and Alden of Haines; daughters Jessie Grant of Haines and Midge McClellan of Juneau, and 10 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.

A dessert memorial will be 1 p.m. Sunday at the ANB Hall. Condolences may be sent to Jessie Grant, P.O. Box 42, Haines, AK 99827.