Emma Rhoda Sampson
Emma Rhoda Sampson was born to Clara and Alex Sookiayak on August 27,
1954 at Shaktoolik, Alaska. She went to be with our Lord unexpectedly
on October 18, 2002 in Noorvik, Alaska.
Emma was preceded in death by her dad, Alex Sookiayak and brother, Morris
Sookiayak; grandparents Willie and Hilda Takak and Harvey and Rhoda Sookiayak,
nephews Tony and Gus Sookiayak.
She is survived by her husband Thomas Sampson; children Lance, Kristaleigh,
Charmaine, Thomas Sampson and Sterling Gustafson who was adopted out;
grandchildren, Alex, Brad and Amber Sampson; mother, Clara Sookiayak;
sisters Georgiane Anasogak, Hannah and Stephen Long, Carole Sookiayak,
Clara Mae Sagoonick, Ellen and Joseph Katchatag; brothers Harvey and Arlene
Sookiayak and Bruce and Marie Sookiayak.
Emma also leaves behind her brothers-in-law Ben and Winona Sampson, Leslie
Sampson, Ike Sampson; sisters-in-law Vivian and David Zimmermann, Christina
and Chuck Mulluk, Shirlene and Homer Wells, Delbert and Linda Sampson
and Dorcas and Clarence Jackson.
Emma will be greatly missed by her oomas and friends, Cudie Sheldon,
Pauline Cleveland, Ellen Booth, Betty K. Jackson, Rhoda Asicksik, Jessie
Takak and Helen Jackson.
Emma attended Shaktoolik BIA school for eight years and finished her
formal education at William E. Beltz Regional High School where she graduated.
While attending high school she met and later married her husband, Tom,
of 29 years. Together they raised four beautiful children.
Emma loved her children very much but more so “the grands.” “Grandest Gran Alex, “Yaboo Brad” and “Honey Girl
Amber.” Almost all of her time was spent loving and caring for the
grands whenever she came home to Shaktoolik.
Where her family was concerned she gave unselfishly. One of her favorite
pastimes was being out in the country with her husband Tom. Emma loved
to gather subsistence foods while she lived in Shaktoolik. When she was
transferred to Noorvik she worried that she wouldn’t have any subsistence
food, but her dad made time and effort to put some away for her. Emma
was proud and fond of telling people that her dad would do that for her
even up until the last few weeks of his life.
In 1991, Emma was diagnosed with cancer and was told that nothing could
be done for her but she would not accept that and was determined to survive
the cancer for her children’s sake. Her determination is a living
testimony that nothing is impossible with God in whom she totally believed.
During that time she constantly prayed and praised the Lord. People who
knew her and even those who didn’t know her prayed for her healing
and that her will to live, and prayers said on her behalf conquered the
The people she served through the United States Postal Service remember
her as being friendly and helpful with a ready smile. She willingly helped
the elders when they came into the post office. The friends she made in
Noorvik loved her and will cherish her memory. Emma made a big impact
on people from all walks of life wherever she went.
Emma was employed by ANICA for several years until she moved to Kotzebue.
She returned to Shaktoolik and was hired by the U.S. Postal Service. In
1995 she was transferred to Noorvik with her family and worked there until
her death. During her employment with the USPS she also held the position
as Postmaster Trainer; she traveled to many villages throughout Alaska.
Her goal was to eventually become a Postal Inspector. When Emma was able
to go home to Shaktoolik she talked of times she went caribou hunting
and shee-fishing while she lived in Noorvik.
Emma, we love you and look forward to seeing you in heaven. May God hold
you in the palm of His Hand.
Source: Nome Nugget, 14 November 2002