Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at kcapps@newsminer.com, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

Kat and Donald Reeves

Kat and Donald Reeves smile as they pose for a photo. Kris Capps/News-Miner

Meet Kat and Donald Reeves. They are newly arrived and settling in at the city of Nenana.

The couple sold most of their worldly possessions in Indiana, loaded up their motor home and headed north. It wasn’t impetuous. They carefully researched before heading this way.

“We researched all the cities in Alaska, including the islands,” Kat Reeves said. “The place had to have a good church family. It had to be a community where people go to sporting events. It had to be small, but close to a big city.”

They settled on Nenana and then continued their research, posting on Facebook to solicit firsthand information from local residents. That’s where they got a lead on a two-bedroom cabin to rent. The couple felt welcome before they even arrived.

I met them at the fundraiser for the Nenana Volunteer Fire Department, where they already felt right at home.

Kat, 50, is a dog groomer and her husband Donald, 54, is a semi truck driver. So don’t make the mistake of thinking they are retired.

They are job hunting. Kat is already looking for dogs to groom.

“I love dogs,” she said. “I’ve been doing it a long time.”

The couple used to run a hobby farm in West Lafayette, Indiana, and raised more than 100 animals.

“Everything was mini,” she said, “because we had 12 grandchildren, most of them girls.”

Their animals included a mini-cow, a rescue pig named Ima Hog, a hedgehog and many more. Their menagerie included fainting goats — yes, Don confirmed, the goats would actually keel over and faint when they were frightened; a turkey, raised inside a house — it liked to sit on a swing; ducklings; and other baby animals that needed rescuing were also in the mix.

Both are already busy volunteers at the Nenana Library and the Volunteer Fire Department.

They left behind 10 children and 12 grandchildren.

I am always fascinated at how people choose to make Alaska their home. It has been my privilege to visit with some of those people over the years.

Jeannette and Carl Gaul, of North Pole, retired Outside in the early 1980s and then created a detailed checklist to help them determine where to make their next home. It was North Pole that met all their criteria. They moved there and loved it. I met them five years ago when they celebrated their 70th anniversary.

Then, there is Eric and Hannah Filardi. When they decided to return to the United States from Abu Dhabi, they found their dream job in Nenana. I remember Filardi telling me it appealed to them because it combined good education with culture and family.

Last year, Eric Filardi was a finalist for Alaska State Teacher of the Year. Many dedicated teachers have chosen to make the cozy community of Nenana their home.

So I totally understand how the Reeves settled on this small community. And I look forward to seeing them there in the future.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer.com. Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

Locations