October 11, 2012 | Volume 42, No. 41

Harrington remembered for strong faith, warmth

Friends and family filled the Chilkat Center Saturday to remember Jan Harrington.

Harrington, 62, died of cancer Sept. 28 at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. State Rep. Bill Thomas gave the eulogy, telling mourners that his cousin had “strong faith and knew where she was going.”

  Janet Helen Willard was born July 17, 1950 in Juneau, the first of Evans and Dorothy Willard’s eight children. She was raised in Klukwan and married Walter Weedman in1968.    Lee Heinmiller said Harrington was a beautiful and talented member of the Chilkat Dancers whose image was on a billboard at the Seattle airport many years. “She was also on all the magazine covers and in the department of tourism photos. On top of that, she was polite and sweet.” She traveled with the local troupe all over the country, and as far away as Japan.

  Harrington attended University of Alaska-Anchorage for two years before aunt Irene Rowan Sparks got her involved in politics. “Aunt Irene had Jan walking all over the city knocking on doors for the Democrats even though our grandmother Mildred Sparks was a devout Republican,” sister Vangie Willard-Hoy said.

  She worked as a housekeeper on the North Slope during pipeline construction and married Patrick Dunbar.

Harrington worked for Klukwan Forest Products on Long Island, was vice-president of Klukwan subsidiary West Coast Stevedoring, and president of West Coast Construction.

Friend Alice Anne Allen said Harrington kept the records for the timber fallers. “She could do their numbers on the calculator, talk on the radio, and talk to me. She always worked so hard. I was so proud of her when she became a boss for the stevedoring crew when she was the only woman there.”

Jan met Dan Harrington in 1989 when she was his boss at West Coast Stevedoring. A few nights later she thought Dan was about to ask her to dance when he asked her to marry him instead. “Without hesitation she said, ‘Yes, I will,’” he said.

They lived together 10 years before their retiring pastor insisted on “making it legal,” Dan said.

  When Dan, a competitive bicyclist, rode his bike from Haines to Minnesota, Jan made the food and drove the truck. “She read about 16 books on that trip,” Dan said.

  On her 50th birthday she cycled with Dan to the Canada border and back. She hiked Mount Ripinsky each summer and enjoyed building several area houses with Dan, and their vacation homes in Florida, where she kept a garden.

  Jan and Dan owned J & D Rentals. She was a member of the Haines ANS, the American Legion Auxiliary, and the Assembly of God Church.

  Family members said Harrington kept her good humor through nearly a decade of cancer treatments. “She called the hospital ‘the spa,’ and would greet first-time chemo or radiation patients with a smile and tell them not to worry, she’d been doing this for years, and you could see them relax,” Dan Harrington said.

  Willard-Hoy said her sister had treatments recently that she knew might not help, but that she hoped would some day cure others.

  Harrington had two children, Dorothy and Patrick Luck. “Jan often said Dorothy and Luck were her greatest accomplishment,” Dan Harrington said.  

Survivors include husband Dan Harrington of Haines, daughter Dorothy Baz of Bend, Ore., son Luck Dunbar of Haines, grandchildren Alexandria, Alex, and Monique Baz, and great-granddaughter Lola Rain Baz of Bend; mother Dorothy Willard, and siblings Chris Strong, Nancy Coleman, Raymond Willard, Evangeline Willard-Hoy, Donna Murphy and Danny Willard of Haines. Father Evans and sister Dinksie preceded Harrington in death.

   “Jan requested that in her memory you call someone you’ve had a dispute with and tell them that you love them. Especially family. She said life is too short to hold a grudge,” Dan Harrington said.