Jinny Kirk honored for contributions to Chugiak-Eagle River history

Friday, November 8, 2019 - 09:53
  • Virginia “Jinny” Kirk reacts after receving the Chugiak-Eagle River Historical Society’s Founder’s Award from society president Larry Phillips, left, during the society’s annual meeting on Oct. 5 at the Eagle River Elks Lodge. (Photo courtesy of Larry Phillips)

Few people have played a bigger role in preserving the unique narrative of the Chugiak-Eagle River community than Jinny Kirk, a woman who also had a role in creating much of that history.

A former teacher at the Chugiak Territorial School who still lives in Chugiak, Kirk and her late husband, Andy, raised four children in the community, where they were among the area’s most recognizable residents. Both were chronicled in the 2014 book “Legendary Locals of Chugiak-Eagle River,” where Andy Kirk was eulogized as a beloved former coach and Jinny was recognized for her work to help found the local historical society in 1993.

At its most recent annual meeting, the society recognized Kirk’s contributions by presenting her with its “Founder’s Award.”

“We are profoundly proud of her leadership, her commitment to our Society, and to our community in protecting, preserving, and promoting the Chugiak Eagle River Historical Society’s History,” society president Larry Phillips wrote.

The society came about through“a knock on the door and a two-hour conversation on a couch back in 1993” between the late O.W. “Bill” Lowe and Kirk, according to an inscription on the plaque, which features a miner with a gold pan.

Kirk was one of the society’s charter officers when it officially formed in September of 1993, serving as vice-president alongside president Natalie Brooks, secretary Rita Lane and treasurer Fred Sawyer. She’s still active in the group today after overseeing its growth from 18 members to more than 100.

Originally headquartered in the Paul Swanson Building, the group now has space in the Elsie Oberg Center in Chugiak, where its store of local records and memorabilia is kept.

However, the group continues to need support. Many of its members are older and several have died in recent years. At its most recent meeting, the group elected board members Phillips, Jean Moore, Kaye Pullen, Terry Lane and Diane Sullivan. Phillips said the group is working to upgrade its website and currently needs new members and volunteers to help keep the group active.

“We especially need involvement from you, our members and community moving forward in order to fulfill our pledge promoting, preserving, and protecting our history, and filling our committees and commitments,” he wrote.

Anyone seeking more information about the society can visit it online at cerhs.com or email Phillips at [email protected].

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