Obituary: Dodd Coggeshall Shay

Mr. Sassy has passed. He was known for his fun sense of humor and love of making people laugh. Dodd Coggeshall Shay, 74, passed on Oct. 18 at home from cancer. Dodd was born on Feb. 26, 1946, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and raised in Rose Valley, Pennsylvania. He loved vacations in Stone Harbor.

Life got interesting in the 1960s: He enlisted in the Navy in 1963, serving on the USS Saratoga in the Mediterranean. Service ended in May 1969, and by August he was attending the Woodstock Festival with his sister, Susan, and 400,000 other fans! Dodd met his future love, Gwynne Bickel, in 1970 in Philadelphia. They married in November 1970. A simple National Geographic article changed their lives. It was about Alaska. By 1974, Dodd was working on the Alyeska Pipeline. Their next adventure began in a tent on Raspberry Island off Kodiak Island, where they built a cabin. Children Carl, Kristin and Dylan were raised on the island until the family moved back to Kodiak in 1985.

Raspberry Island was the beginning of Dodd’s biggest and most loved adventure: trapping, fishing, hunting and growing vegetables. The family had horses, goats, rabbits, a cat and dog. It was true living and loving in the wilderness. Dodd determined that he had to be the boss on an island with plentiful Kodiak brown bears, so he visited the dens he could find and introduced himself as “the boss.” One day, he was working on a deer he had shot, with the rifle set aside. When he looked up, he was face-to-face with a Kodiak brown bear; he could count its teeth, it was so close. He stood his ground quietly until, fortunately, a deer ran by and the bear took off after it. A day in the life of ...

Later in life, Dodd moved on to a 24-year adventure with a new spouse, Carole Jean Shay. The marriage ceremony in 1997 was a hilarious surprise during a business meeting at her work. The two had met in Anchorage, where Dodd had several careers focused on quality home building. His own business, Shay Inspections, showed his love for making family homes earthquake safe.

In 2001, little did Dodd know his life would change from travelling and enjoying sites like Seward and Talkeetna, hiking and using state cabins with the teens. That year began a 19-year adventure running Alaska Assistance Dogs (AAD), with Dodd as president of the board of directors and Carole the director and canine therapist. Together, they ran the all-volunteer nonprofit with teen to adult volunteers, providing highly trained golden retriever service dogs and canine therapy programs in Anchorage and throughout Mat-Su Borough. Dodd should have known his future when he stated that he met Carole “walking a dog.” In lieu of sending flowers, AAD would love small donations (AAD, 1081 W. Robin’s Song Avenue, Wasilla AK 99654) to honor Dodd’s wonderful work. Due to COVID, grants for school programs have stopped.

Dodd is survived by his loving sister and brothers: Susan Shay Sigel and William Dixon Shay Jr. and Lowell Lewis Shay; adult sons Carl, Dylan and his wife Carma with Dodd’s only two grandchildren Tristin and Leon. Dodd is preceded in death by his parents William Dixon Shay and Isabelle Dodd Shay Hollingsworth, and his beloved daughter (Capt.) Kristin Shay Paulson at 26. Due to COVID, no service is planned at this time.

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