Aleen Fison, 96, a former Anchorage resident, died peacefully in Auburn, WA, on October 20, 2019, with family at her side. In a full life spanning nearly a century, she touched the lives of many. Aleen was a teacher, home economist, volunteer, creative quilter, devoted wife, and loving mother and grandmother.
Aleen was born November 26, 1922, in Van Buren, MO, to Ottis and Nova Boxx. Aleen graduated from Van Buren High School in 1941. That fall, she moved to Kansas City, MO, where she lived with her aunt and attended business college. The boy next door, David Fison, invited Aleen to attend a Methodist Youth Fellowship meeting. She married David on July 31, 1943.
Five months later, David enlisted in the Navy. His home port was in San Francisco, and Aleen moved there in March 1944 to be near him during World War II. She got a job at the Fleet Post Office on Treasure Island. They lived briefly in Los Angeles after the war but returned to Kansas City before their first child was born in 1947. Two years later, David decided to become a minister, and Aleen began her lifelong career as a minister's wife. Aleen supported David through college and in his first churches in Missouri and Illinois. During this period, they had three more children in 1951, 1953, and 1958.
David and Aleen moved to Alaska in 1960 as Methodist missionaries. They served churches in Anchorage, Ketchikan, and Fairbanks. Two more children were born in Ketchikan in 1961 and 1963. Aleen valued education and took college courses while raising her children. In 1964, Aleen earned her Associate of Arts degree and became the first graduate of the Ketchikan Community College. In 1966, she began taking courses at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. In 1969, at the age of 47, Aleen graduated from UAF with a degree in home economics and education.
Soon after she graduated, Aleen began teaching courses in an adult education program in Fairbanks. When David and Aleen relocated to Anchorage, Aleen was hired by the Anchorage School District to teach a new curriculum related to Alaska Native Studies. She later taught home economics and health at Central Junior High, Service High School, and Hanshew Junior High before retiring in 1987.
In 1979, David and Aleen began constructing a unique, four-level geodesic dome on the Anchorage Hillside where they lived for nearly four decades. She loved cooking and hosting events for family and friends in their home.
Aleen excelled at sewing, quilting, knitting. She also enjoyed gardening and growing houseplants and flowers in her garden, greenhouse, and their dome's sky-room. A child of the Depression, Aleen was always thrifty and self-sufficient. She took great pride in investing and managing family finances. David and Aleen traveled frequently, often accompanied by children and grandchildren. She enjoyed visiting her home town in Missouri and spoke at both her 50th and 70th high school reunions. Most summers she spent at her father's berry farm in Lynden, WA. Aleen inherited the farm after his death in 1987, and it is still growing berries.
Aleen was a former president of the Anchorage Home Economics Association. She was active in Church Women United and United Methodist Women. For many years Aleen served on the Board of Alaska Children's Services (now known as AK Child & Family). For several years she was a volunteer for the University of Alaska's Circumpolar Health Program and hosted many visitors from Russia.
Aleen was an avid reader, especially of biographies. She also had a keen interest in history and genealogy. Although Aleen was not involved in party politics, she was interested in news and political events. She often recalled a chance meeting and discussion she had with Harry Truman in the Van Buren courthouse when she was a teenager. In the late 1950s, David and Aleen had a private meeting with Eleanor Roosevelt to discuss their work in civil rights in Chicago. In 1960, their first year in Alaska, they took their children to hear speeches by both John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon. Aleen later took children and grandchildren to watch speeches by most presidents that visited Alaska.
In 2013, David and Aleen were honored by the Alaska State Legislature for their many decades of community service and their 70th wedding anniversary. In 2014, the Alaska Methodist Men gave Aleen the Susanna Wesley Award of Excellence in recognition of her decades of leadership in the church.
In October 2017, after 57 fulfilling years in Alaska, David and Aleen moved to Wesley Homes Lea Hill, a retirement community in Auburn, WA. One of Aleen's greatest joys was frequent visits with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, many of whom lived nearby. In July 2018, David and Aleen had a family celebration for their 75th wedding anniversary.
Aleen was preceded in death by her husband David, who died in January 2019, son David K. Fison Jr., who died at the age of four in 1955. She was also preceded in death by her three younger brothers: Gene, Max, and Benny Boxx.
Aleen is survived by children Susan Fison, Deborah Chang Craft (Wayne), and David James Fison (Heidi) all of Anchorage, as well as son Paul Fison (Sherril) of Tacoma, WA, and Jayne Mason (Michael) of Enumclaw, WA. Aleen is also survived by eleven grandchildren: Pamella Jean, Elizabeth Fison Hudson, Ian Chang, Julia Chang, April Fison Brown, Julie Fison, David Fison, Patrick Thomas, Paige Proctor, Zachary Mason, and Heather Fison. She is also survived by seven great-grandchildren: Peyton, Camryn, Tyson, Konrad, JJ, Lucas, and Teagan.
Aleen was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Ferndale, WA, next to her husband David and near many other family members, including her parents, siblings, and grandparents. Rev. John Shaffer, officiated at the graveside service. He is a former Alaska Methodist minister, who had known Aleen and David for nearly 60 years. The service was followed by a luncheon hosted by Aleen’s cousin Sharon Severns Jorissen.
An Anchorage memorial service, with Rev. Andy Bartel officiating, will be held at St. John United Methodist Church, 1801 O'Malley Road, at 1 p.m. on Saturday, November 16. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to stjohneagle.com, AKchild.org, or unitedmethodistwomen.org.
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