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Tom Seckinoff – Pinky Jan. 15, 1891 – Dec. 1974

 

Tom Seckinoff, known as “Pinky”, is part of the rich history of Bethel. Pinky’s Park is named after him. Pinky was in the Territorial Guard and also worked as a miner.

According to his friend Stanley Tundy Rodgers, Pinky was a Russian fellow who came from the country of Georgia, which is south of Russia. He came to the United States through New York, lived in Los Angeles, and ended up in Bethel.

Pinky dug ditches and that’s how he made his money, said Tundy. He was the best digger, using only a pick and a shovel to do his work.

“He was the actual first human steam shovel in Bethel, pick and shovel, never complained. He frostbit his hands and toes a couple of times but could dig a straight line, better than a surveyor could do,” Tundy said. “Today he would be a man’s man. He was a tough old man but so friendly that if you had any kind of a problem he would take money out of pocket and give it to you.”

A huge painting of him used to hang in the old Kuskokwim Inn (now the Longhouse Hotel).

Tundy remembers his generous giving to anyone in need.

“He gave so much to the community. One of the ways that Art Nicholson – when he was on city council - figured that they could pay respect to him was to name a park after him,” said Tundy. “He helped so many people in this town, a lot of people don’t know it because most of them are gone now. He bought fuel, groceries…he used to sit in front of Bergie’s and watch people go by. They’d come and ask for help and he’d help them monetarily, or anyhow. After he died they named the park after him.”

How did Pinky get his nickname?

“I don’t really know, but I think it was because his nose was always pink,” said Tundy.

Pinky is the only person in western Alaska that ever walked from McGrath to Fairbanks and back twice. He walked from McGrath to Fairbanks for a radio – to get a battery operated radio, said Tundy.

The second time was when he went to go to meet a relative who came from Russia to see him. The relative never showed up so he walked back, peeved.

Pinky lived out his last days at the Pioneer Home in Fairbanks. He died in December, 1974. He did not have a wife or children but he had many friends.

Bethel resident Mike Nerby was able to find a photo of Pinky in Julia Nerby’s photo album collection. John Weise, who worked as a photographer for the school yearbook back in 1968 or 1969, took the photo of Pinky.

“He was a good man,” said Tundy.

 

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