Dannetta “Penny” Wakefield died peacefully at home on Aug. 16 from ovarian cancer.
She was born Feb. 7, 1940, in Lemmon, South Dakota, to Berlyn and Agnes (Frisvold) Wakefield. She graduated in 1958 from Faulkton High School in Faulkton, South Dakota and in 1962 from South Dakota State College. She attained a degree in physical therapy at the University of Iowa in 1964. For two years, Penny worked at Younkers Rehabilitation Center in Des Moines, Iowa. In 1966, Penny went to Yellowstone National Park to work with students from Rexburg, Idaho in melodrama theatre. She returned to Iowa to set up a physical therapy department at the local medical center in Harlan. She then worked for the Americana Rehabilitation Center setting up centers in midwestern states. She headed west to Sun Valley, Idaho to work in the skiing industry and later traveled to Santa Cruz, California, to work in a physical therapy private practice.
In 1973, she came to Alaska and met the love of her life, Kenneth Alt. She set up the physical therapy department at Fairbanks Medical and Dental Arts and also worked as a relief therapist in Fairbanks. She retired in 1987. At the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) in 1975, Penny took weaving classes and joined the Fairbanks Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild as well as the Fairbanks Arts Association. She and other artisans formed the Fiber Cooperative at Alaskaland that operated from 1978 until the early 1990s. She then helped form the Interior Artisans annual gift show and sale which ran until 1998.
She taught weaving at UAF for students and community hobby weavers from 2000 until the present. In 1990, Penny was involved in creating a summer fiber art program for youth which is still in existence. This program through the Fairbanks Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild influenced the lives of over 6,000 young people through the teaching of arts and crafts. She has also exhibited her fiber artwork at art venues throughout Alaska and in other parts of the country for the past 30 years. Penny began teaching duplicate bridge in 1996 for the Farthest North Bridge Club and was an active bridge player at the Fairbanks Senior Center.
Penny was preceded in death by her parents, Berlyn and Agnes Wakefield, and sister-in-law, Sylvia Wakefield. She is survived by her husband, Kenneth T. Alt; brothers, Rod Wakefield (partner Joan), Pierre Wakefield (Kathryn) and Randy Wakefield (Janet); nephew, Daniel Wakefield (Nancy) and children, Charlie, Liam and Hallie; and niece, Angela Cerny (Craig) and children, Sylvia and Elana. Weaving was Penny’s love. She has requested that people support the arts (Fairbanks Arts Association) and enjoy outdoor Alaska.