Bing Santamour passed away Saturday (March 29th) in Anchorage and was laid to rest in Bethel Wednesday. Tuesday friends and family gathered at the Catholic Church social hall to remember a woman they said was always going out of her way to help people.
The Catholic Church social hall is abuzz with preparations to celebrate the life of Bing Santamour. Family and friends setting out food and flowers as others file past the casket to view the woman who touched their lives. Santamour’s younger sister, Linda Joule takes a seat to explain why so many remember her so fondly. She says Santamour was a unique personality who liked helping young people pursue higher education.
“Finding scholarships, helping support them through their college or training years. She would travel, keep in touch with them by phone. She would often keep bring them fish or berries. Since she’s been in the hospital and since even she passed away I’ve had people come up and say if it weren’t for her, three of us siblings would not have made it through college, if it weren’t for Bing.”
Born in Bethel in 1949, Santamour was a resident most of her life. She was involved in many community groups, and most recently was a member of the ONC Board and worked as a tribal judge. Santamour’s older sister Margaret Chaney holds back tears as she remembers how Santamour made time to visited a sick friend in the hospital not long ago.
“I think the last three weeks of his life she visited him every day for three weeks. Out of her busy life and out of her not so perfect life she had time to help other people in their last days and with her family.”
Friends and family told stories of Santamour’s travels around Alaska and Outside for education and adventure. Wearing a knit yellow, beret hat made by her aunt Bing, Sundi Hondl, says she always looked up to Santamour.
“Growing up she was very outgoing and adventurous and I really admired that about her. To me she set a precedent for a lot of us younger nieces and nephews to not e afraid to go and spread your wings and experience life outside of Bethel. I’ve downhill skied and been very outdoorsy and adventurous and a lot of that I attribute to her.”
John Active grew up with Santamour and says she touched so many lives because she was genuinely caring.
“She was the most gentle, caring person that I ever met. She always spoke softly to us. And she was always, through her example – by her daily life, was showing us how to be kind to one another, care for one another and love one another.”
As one person who did not want to be recorded put it, “she made me want to be a nicer person.” And that seems to be the sentiment of everyone he met Bing Santamour. Santamour leaves a son, Seth and a daughter, Tyrene and five grandchildren.