On May 7, 2021, we said goodbye to Valerie Echo Pillans (Hansen) in Oswego, New York. Valerie or “Val” was born July 5, 1964, in Kodiak, Alaska, where she resided until 2011. Val passed away peacefully and at home in the care of her husband, Richard Pillans II, to whom she was married for 40 years.
She leaves behind her three children Devin J. Hansen (KC Hackett), Richard A. Pillans III (Alexandria Pillans) and Andrew J. Pillans (Angela Pillans); a beloved sister Sophie Frets (Steven Frets); and cherished nieces and nephews. Val loved her grandchildren Chloe Pillans, Richard Pillans IV, Andrew Pillans Jr., Sealey Pillans and Layla Echo Pillans. Val had a large family formed from the roots of Kodiak and the Anderson lineage. She was preceded in death by her father Walter William Hansen and mother Edna May Hansen.
Valerie was blessed with creative talent and wit. She acted as Anna in the “Cry of the Wild Ram” and beaded a headdress that is now on display at the Alaska Native Medical Center. She often talked of fond memories in Port Lions where she would float out in the Kodiak oceans on driftwood with her beagle, Big Boy, on watch. Her favorite salmon to eat was silvers. When Valerie resided in New York, she spent time with her family enjoying live music, dancing and lifting weights at the local YMCA.
Her professional career and personal interests were braided together tightly, and she was always there to lend a hand to anyone that needed one. She was fierce when it came to uplifting her community. She worked for the Kodiak Area Native Association in increasing positions. During her tenure, she helped create Spirit Camp, worked with Community Health and Village Public Safety, and as a vocational rehabilitation administrator in conjunction with Threshold Services. She always strived to improve her knowledge and took classes at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Valerie always emphasized that “Knowledge is Power.”
To celebrate Valerie’s passing, please think of her the next time you have a great bonfire on the beaches of Kodiak — she loved it there.
If you feel the need to honor Valerie’s final wishes, donations can be made to the Koniag Education Foundation at koniageducation.org or by mail to 4241 B St. Suite 303B, Anchorage, AK 99615.