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Alan Lee Penwell, the brother of Chromo resident Laurel Penwell, died after a short battle with renal cell carcinoma on Wednesday, May 7, at the Lund Home Hospice of the Valley unit in Chandler, Ariz. He was 65.
Known as “Lee,” he was born to J.C. and Gloria Penwell on Oct. 17, 1948, in Fort Collins, where his family lived before moving to the Singing Pines Ranch on the Upper Piedra River near Pagosa Springs. Mr. Penwell spent his early years there hunting, fishing and exploring the mountains.
“His love of nature inspired his dream of being an Alaskan mountain man, which he began fulfilling in 1969,” according to his family, “when he moved to Alaska. Not long after arriving in the state, he made his way to Nabesna, where legendary big game guide Bill Ellis and his wife, Lorene, introduced him to Nabesna in the Wrangell Mountains.”
Mr. Penwell called Nabesna home for the next 40 years. He owned the Gun and Ammo Gun Shop in Anchorage from 1974 to 1986. He went on to specialize in antique and collectible firearms at Lee’s Shop. He also provided gunsmith services from his shop and home on Nabesna Road. “He was a constant presence at the state’s gun shows and was a respected authority on a wide variety of firearms,” according to his family.
Mr. Penwell worked for the National Park Service for 10 years and was the contract mail carrier for Nabesna Road for 15 years.
He and companion Vicki Rood were together for 26 years, marrying in February 2004 in Alaska.
“Most importantly, Lee was a faithful and loyal friend,” according to his family, “and he shared a deep commitment to and steadfast love with Vicki.”
Mr. Penwell is survived by his wife, Vicki Penwell, of Chandler, Ariz.; stepson Kyle Rood, of Estes Park; father J.C. Penwell, of the Veteran’s Home in Mt. Vernon, Mo.; mother Gloria Childress, of Portal, Ariz.; sisters Dale Triplett, of Redmesa, Laurel Penwell, of Chromo, Tracy Penwell, of Phoenix, Ariz.; and stepbrother John Jones, of Nixa, Mo.
No formal services are planned. His ashes will be sprinkled in Jack Creek near the Penwells’ home.
Memorial donations may be sent to Hospice of the Valley, 1510 E. Flower St., Phoenix, AZ 85014; or Hospice of Mercy, 1 Mercado St., Suite 270, Durango, CO 81301.