49 Voices: Richard Hensley of Kotzebue

Richard Hensley in Kotzebue (Photo by Anne Hillman, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage)

This week we’re hearing from Richard Hensley in Kotzebue. Hensley lives in an assisted living facility now, but used to live with his sister and brother-in-law.

Listen now

HENSLEY: Kotzebue, I was born and raised around here 68 years ago. I could lie about my age (laughs).

Before I ended up in this facility, we were living in a trailer. I woke up. I hollered “Anybody home!” Nobody home. Hot cup of coffee on the table. I picked it up. Didn’t see my brother-in-law around. He wrote me a note. I picked it up. I put my coffee down. I read that note:

“Uncle Richard. I had to rush your younger sister to the hospital.”

As soon as I saw that hospital part, I dropped that note and I forgot all about my coffee. Out the door I went. I got so excited, I ran out in slippers. No jacket.

Then my sister Beverly, she told my brother-in-law, “Ron. Did you write your brother-in-law a note.”

“Yeah, I wrote him a note. He was just sleeping babe.”

My younger sister said, “Well. You better go check on him. He’s probably awake.”

I got about halfway between the hospital from our trailer. Then I saw a car coming down he road. I thought, “Oh gee. Here comes my brother-in-law.” So I stopped. (laughs) It was him.

He said, “Uncle Richard.”

I said, “What, Ron?”

He said, “Where’s your jacket and shoes?”

I said, “I woke up and hollered for you, ‘Anybody home?’ Nobody answered me. You wrote me a note. That’s what got me all riled up.” (laughs)

That’s when my younger sister Beverly had my niece Judy. Right on the 7th of January. Right on my birthday.

After being told innumerable times that maybe she asked too many questions, Anne Hillman decided to pursue a career in journalism. She's reported from around Alaska since 2007 and briefly worked as a community radio journalism trainer in rural South Sudan.
ahillman (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8447  |  About Anne

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