December 16, 1930 – January 5, 2019
Iylla grew up on a farm in Northern Minnesota during the 1930’s and 40’s. She was part of a large Polish family; four boys and six girls. After finishing school she chose to go to California to join family and continue her education.
As time passed she would secure a job with a Government Contractor working overseas. She went to work in Spain and from there traveled and worked in many countries. She would eventually find herself in Saigon and Vietnam spending about ten years there during the war. Iylla would not speak about the war stating she had lost too many friends while there. When asked if she feared for her safety her answer was ”No”, The boys always took care of the Money Girl”. She apparently paid out salaries.
After leaving Vietnam her next job would be in Prudhoe Bay which is north of the Arctic Circle. Imagine the climate change! It was here she became part of the crew working on the Alaskan Pipeline. Her story was that there were more polar bears than humans.
“Ski “ - her chosen nickname would eventually work her way down to Anchorage working for Alascom which dealt with the “oil patch” up on the slope. She was able to treat her brother Bob to a tour of that place which gave her great joy.
Once Ski settled into life in Anchorage, she became quite involved in politics arranging many a fundraiser for her dear friend Senator Ted Stevans. She was never afraid to speak her mind and stand up (loudly) for what she believed to be right.
She immersed herself in Alaskan life, enjoying the beauty that surrounded her. She once told me that being able to walk out her door and see the snow covered mountains was the best way to start her day. After retirement she took on the job of volunteering. She could be found at the botanical gardens, the library, the museum, the booth center and the Native Heritage Center. She also went out to the many “first people” villages to assist where ever she could. Skis believed strongly in the respectful treatment of the “first people”.
Ski was also a voracious reader. She would often crawl in bed with two or three books and spend her day reading saying, “not much else to do here during the long winter months”. Aside from reading she enjoyed music, everything from Pavarotti to Willie Nelson. I chuckle to myself when to recall us sitting and listening to old standard Christian hymns. This lady who often expressed herself loudly and with a salty tongue quietly singing Amazing Grace.
I know that my sister often stretched her stories. As the old saying goes, “Dazzle with Brilliance or Baffle with B_ _ _ S_ _ _. I am thankful for the time we got to spend together even thou the sadness of the disease was taking it’s toll.
She was quick to say she would never leave Alaska. So now as promised she will return. Bless You my Sister, I Love You.