Dennis began fishing when he was a young boy, skippering his own boat at the age of 15. He fished salmon, herring, cod, halibut and shrimp, and was one of the pioneers of the king crab fisheries. Dennis and his family also operated a gillnet site for nine years on Uganik Island.
One of his greatest mentors and good friend was John “JP” Pestrikoff, age 101, who lives in Port Lions, Alaska. Dennis retired from fishing in the early 1990s for medical reasons.
Dennis was preceded in death by his parents, Nick and Polly Noya, brother Roy Noya, sister Helen Harris, son Raymond Knagin, grandchildren Kristopher (Skip) Cornell, Jenna Lynn Knagin and Michael Knagin. Survivors include his wife Julie, of 55 years; children Evie Russell of Edmonds, Wash., Victoria McLaughlin of Kingston, Wash., Gloria Bishop, Denny Knagin and Gary Knagin, all of Kodiak, Denise May (Bob) of Port Lions, Juli Ana (Jeff) Winegarden of Wasilla and Virginia (Tim) Ward of Tok. He is also survived by his sister Thayo (Glenn) Brandal of Port Lions.
Together Dennis and Julie raised eight children. They have 22 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren, with another great-grandchild due in March of next year.
Because Dennis was one of the few Alutiiq speakers left, he was approached by the Alutiiq Museum to help teach the Alutiiq language. He truly valued the opportunity to help bring back his language, which was almost lost to our Native community. Dennis was very much valued as an Elder and will be missed, not only for his knowledge of the Alutiiq language, but for the many stories that he shared. He continued teaching to all ages until he became seriously ill.
Dennis enjoyed attending the Dig Afognak culture camp. He especially enjoyed the youth camps, teaching the kids to carve masks and boats. Other activities included cultural dances, music and more language lessons.
Dennis was loved for his friendly demeanor, sense of humor, caring attitude, generosity and his love of the Alutiiq culture. He was happy that his Native language, which he was punished for speaking as a child in school, was being revived through various language programs.
Dennis and Julie were well known for their love of dancing. He taught all his girls to jitterbug, who all thought he was the best dancer on the island. He was in great demand on the dance floor. He occasionally grabbed the spoons to play along with Carl and Carl.
Dennis was an Elder in the truest sense of the word. He was dearly loved and will be missed by all. We express our deep appreciation for the overwhelming support we received from family and friends for our dear husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, Dennis Knagin
Especially heartfelt gratitude for the excellent care he received throughout his illness from the medical and pharmacy personnel at the Kodiak Area Native Association and to the Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center hospital employees for the care he received, including emergency personnel.