Philip Redeagle, “Kokepesni, Not Afraid,” 96, died on Sunday evening, Sept. 29, at Tacoma General Hospital in Tacoma, Wash.
He was born in a log cabin at Fort Kipp on the Fort Peck Reservation on Nov. 25, 1916. He struggled courageously over the last year with his health. He is long known for his basketball skills. On Dec. 7, 2007, he was part of the first group of Indian athletes to be inducted into the Montana Indian Athletes Hall of Fame. His most memorable high school year was his senior year in 1936 when the Brockton High School basketball team took the State Championship. He was also an excellent baseball player and a great horseman.
After high school, he worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps for two years and then headed west to attend Chemawa Technical School near Salem, Ore. It was here that he met Marian Steilacoom (Salish) and married her in the summer of 1940. He and Marian relocated back to Marian’s home in Port Angeles and then to Ft. Peck, finally settling in Washington just before World War II. He worked at Boeing in Seattle until the war started and then moved to Tacoma to work at Todd Shipyard as a ship fitter. After the war he went to work at Cushman Indian Hospital, a TB Sanitarium. There he worked as a carpenter and painter.
During his employment at Todd and Cushman, he continued to practice his love of basketball and baseball. He played for the shipyard basketball team and after the war formed both a basketball and baseball team named the Tacoma Tomahawks, and participated in the Indian Basketball and Baseball leagues as a player and manager until 1959. The Tomahawks were made up of Native American players from tribes outside the northwest region.
In 1959, after the closing in Cushman, the family moved to Sitka, Alaska, and Philip worked at the Mt. Edgecumbe Public Health Service Hospital that served the Alaska native population.
He and Marian retired in 1981 and moved back to Tacoma, buying a home and finally settling down. Marian passed in 2003 from cancer.
Even though he lived away many years, he managed to make a trip home each year to visit friends and relatives across the Reservation and attend a pow wow. He loved his family and showed that love through his phone calls and visits, giving words of praise, encouragement and comfort. The example he set before us will forever be a part of us in generations to come. We will miss him tremendously from our lives while he goes home to be at rest.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Marian; his parents, Harold Red Eagle and Lucy Little Crow-Red Eagle; one son, Ronald; five sisters, Katherine Blount, Alice Buck Elk, Clara Blount, Rita Belgarde, and Virginia Spotted Bird; an adopted sister, Sybil Lambert; four adopted brothers, Alpheus Bighorn, Ernie Bighorn, Leonard Bighorn, and Jacob Bighorn Sr.; and most all his peers.
Survivors include two daughters, Darlene Salyers of Tacoma, and Teresa Red Eagle of Poplar; a granddaughter, Robin Salyers; four sons, Philip, Harold, Keith and Robert, all of Tacoma; many relatives; three first cousins, Joyce Red Eagle-Tootosis of Culbertson, Gloria Red Eagle Garcia of San Jose, Calif., and Reba Red Eagle-Ogle of Poplar; and a sister-in-law, Betty Steilacoom of Port Angeles, Wash.
Vigil services were held Tuesday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m. at the Brockton Cultural Center in Brockton.
Funeral services were held Wednesday, Oct. 9, at 10 a.m. at the Brockton Cultural Center in Brockton, followed by interment in the Fort Kipp Cemetery in Fort Kipp, Mont.
Bell Mortuary of Glasgow was in charge of arrangements.