A letter from the family of Patrick Hunsberger

To all the people around the world that knew Patrick,

Patrick Hunsberger was born Feb. 10, 1986 at Tyndall AFB, in Panama City Beach Florida. He left us on July 4, 2011, at Harding Lake, Alaska and was laid to rest July 22, 2011 at Birch Hill Cemetery in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Patrick had an endless number of friends nationwide. We can’t name all of you or this letter would never end.

I want to start by thanking Justin Skinner for first contacting us through text to inform us of what happened. We are thankful for the Alaska State Troopers, PAWS Team and Ft. Wainwright Dive Team’s  search efforts for the first three days, however unsuccessful.

We are very thankful that our friends; LaVerne Schafer, Charlie and Betty Huntington, my brother Gary Thurmond, Art Farmer, Ray Wildrick, Earl Sommer,and Eileen Pitka, stepped in to organize search and rescue efforts.  In our native way, we don’t give up until we bring him home.

We can’t express how thankful we are to the people who brought their boats out and manned the boats, working around the clock dragging the lake. We can’t remember everybody but will try to list as many as we can: Brad Demientieff, Ray Wildrick, Gary Thurmond, Charlie and Betty Huntington, LaVerne Schafer, Paulo Morroti, Cameron Washburn, Kiel Bole, Justin Skinner, Frank Mikesell, Eric Adams, Art Farmer, Warren George, Andy Carlo, Joee Notti, Emil Notti, Randy Kangas, Joe Cleaver, David Attla, AJ Dick, Joe Dick, Craig Hill, James Wright, my dad Robert and his brothers Calvin and Frankie Thurmond Tim Masek, Brian and Glen Duncan, Doug Pitka, Ralph Silas, Michael Silas, Robert Silas, Earl Sommer, Hugh Kriska, Kyle and Manoli Malemute, Andrew Esmailka, Patrick Captain, Ron Pitka, Elliott Esmailka, Gregory Nickoli, John Boy, Ralph Minook, Shane Derendoff, Dorothy Schockley,  Arlene Farmer, Mary Jane Derendoff , Tony Thomas, Jimmy Malemute and Roland Riley Jerome Semaken, and Lindberg Charlie.

Our base camp volunteers kept everyone organized and stayed up around the clock making sure that everyone was accounted for: Ericka, Noranell Duncan, Tammy Thurmond, Claudia Demoski, and Pam Cleaver, Jen Alstrom, Allison Trubacz, Annette McCotter, Audrey Jones, and Joyce Sommer.

Our cooks who made sure everybody was fed in  search and rescue efforts: my sisters Elsie Thurmond and  Roberta Faber, Pauline Nollner, Marilyn Evans, Isabelle Koyuktuk, Evelyn Esmailka and Gary Joseph did an awesome job cooking all day and night. So many people brought out all the wonderful dishes, sharing native foods.

Patrick’s Grandmother Patsy Roberts and Aunts Deb Rapp and Cathy Cir, who flew to Alaska from Tennessee and Florida to be with us: thank you!

Big thanks and love to my hometown of Galena for having a fundraiser at Archie’s Yukon Inn to help with expenses. Many thanks to Marlene Marshall, Freda Beasley and Jennifer Hildebrand for coordinating the raffle. Galena will always be my home and we will always be very appreciative for what you did for us.

We respect and appreciated Agnes Ostlund, Poldine Carlo, Minnie Roberts and others that came to sing our Athabascan Songs from Nulato and to pray for our son’s return.

Brad Demientieff with the help of, Ray Wildrick, Jimmy Malemute, Dad, Calvin, and Craig Faber for building a beautiful casket and cross.  Jo Malemute, Mathilda Huntington, Dorothy Schockley, Pam Cleaver and Thelma Nicholia did an awesome job of lining the casket.

TK Sweetsir, Harlan Sweetsir and Byron Nelson for digging at the gravesite.

Our Aunties Agnes Ostlund, Lillian Sommer Smith and Eleanor Thurmond for knitting a scarf and a pair of socks.  Also Thelma Nicholia for sewing the slipper and gloves you did an amazing job and Irene Nicholia Todd for the embroidered blanket.

Josephine Malemute for making the programs.

Josephine Malemute, Ann Fears, Peter Captain Sr. Billy Demoski for playing all the beautiful gospel music.
Thank you Jimmy and Josephine Malemute, and Gerhard and LaVerne Schafer for letting us stay with you in your homes, you are great hosts.

Pam Cleaver was our go to girl. She did an outstanding job at camp, in Fairbanks, or wherever we needed her. She was more than willing to help out.

Our biggest supporter, Tanana Chiefs Conference for providing our family with a motor-home to get much needed sleep, 3 boats, gas, food, camping tents, sleeping bags, and any other supplies needed to keep the camp running and to keep the boats on the lake. Thanks to Ted Charles and Jim Knopki for checking on us daily to make sure all supplies were received, checking if we needed anything else and most importantly, for contacting Gene Ralston who came up from Idaho to finally find Patrick for us. We cannot express our thanks in words how thankful we are for you, your wife and your equipment.

We received numerous other donations from Doyon, IRHA, FNA, Gana-A’ Yoo, Northern Power Sports, Kaltag tribe for sending in their search and rescue team, ERA for flying them in and Justin Esmailka for making that happen, Harding Lake Home Owners Assoc., AAA Moving and Storage, Denali Moving and Storage, World Wide Moving and Storage, Dept. of Army, Haskell, LaVelle’s, Chili’s, Dept. of Natural Resources, Alaska State Parks, community of Huslia for the Moose meat,  monetary donations from individuals, as well as another motor-home.

Thank you Victor Joseph for making the delicious Moose Soup!! My sister-in-law Deb from Tennessee loved it, and everybody else that cooked for the potlatch.

Last but not least our cousin Noranell Duncan.  She did the most amazing job of keeping the search and rescue efforts organized. She worked around the clock, overseeing all areas of the camp, all the while caring for her two young boys. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You were our rock when we needed you.

A special thanks to Dave VanMeter, Jeff Clarke, and the Ft. Wainwright transportation office. We had problems flying out of Fairbanks and they helped us get back to Germany in a timely manner.
My heartfelt thanks to everybody that flew into Fairbanks to be with us, it meant the world to us.
We would like to thank all the people visiting us even if it was to say hi, sharing stories, your phone calls, your cards, and monetary donations.

Forgive us if we didn’t mention you or thank you for being there to support us in some way. You will be in our hearts eternally. The outpouring support that we received was phenomenal,and for that we are grateful.

Loves to all,
Patrick will be in our hearts forever!!
Dave, Vera, Jessica, and Sean

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