John Bagoy

(1922 - 2005)

John Bagoy wished to make the history of Anchorage readily available to the community by sharing his research through his book (Legends & Legacies, Anchorage, 1910-1935 (2001), the pioneer family exhibit panels at the Anchorage Museum (1994), the computer accessible information in the Alaska Gallery at the Anchorage Museum hosted by Cook Inlet Historical Society, and his Annual Summer Solstice Cemetery Tour at the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery.  The Cook Inlet Historical Society was deeply and regularly involved with John’s efforts, beginning with fundraising for the cemetery upgrades and continues to host the annual summer tours. In order to continue John’s legacy, CIHS received grants from both the Rasmuson and Atwood Foundations to update the display and information on the website.

Through fifteen years of research and detective work, John Bagoy and the Anchorage Memorial Park Cemetery director inventoried about 3,000 unmarked graves at the downtown cemetery and then researched the lives of many of those buried there. In 1982, he began his research after his mother, Marie, was buried there. When he started, the city cemetery had weeded itself into a serious decline and, worst of all, a sense of community neglect. Through the Cook Inlet Historical Society, Bagoy helped raise $250,000 for the project, including substantial contributions from the Cook Inlet Regional Corporation, Inc. (CIRI) and Wells Fargo Bank, to identify and restore the graves of Anchorage pioneers, Native chiefs and others who built Anchorage. His first project was to upgrade the gravesite of Sydney and Jeanne Laurence. Bagoy, a driven Anchorage historian, stepped up in his retirement years and enriched the city in lasting ways. The cemetery project, his book, and the Museum’s exhibit panels depicting Anchorage families, ensured that some of Anchorage’s early history was not lost and is his lasting achievement. Weeks before his passing in 2005, Bagoy received an award from the Anchorage Museum of History and Art for his historical work. Working with the Municipality, the Cook Inlet Historical Society established a gate and bust honoring John at the public entrance to the Cemetery.