Obituary: Antonina (Toni) Josephine Hosick

August 27, 1918 – September 15, 2020

Antonina (Toni) Josephine Hosick passed away on September 15, 2020 in her hometown of Cordova, Alaska at the age of 102. Born in Westfield, Massachusetts on August 27, 1918 to Polish immigrant parents, she grew up learning the values of resilience, hard work and tradition. Her early memories focused on routine and tradition: Sunday mass, family get-togethers where her sister would play the piano, and her brothers going fishing. One exceptional memory in this orthodox life was helping her mother make gin in their bathtub during prohibition to make a little extra money.

During her Westfield High School years, acting was her passion. Following high school she had to set acting aside, but she picked it back up in later years performing in plays in Cordova and San Antonio, Texas. Right after high school, she attended business school in Massachusetts. In 1937 she married Henry Blake and had 5 children. They separated in 1950 and she made the cross-continental trek with her 5 children to Cordova, Alaska to join her brother Stanley at the mink ranch. After arriving, she tried her hand at cannery work and waitressing, deciding they were not for her. Thankfully, Merle “Mudhole” K. Smith offered her a job, and she put her business school courses to use in jobs at Cordova Airlines and later Pacific Northern Airlines. While she enjoyed her work, she loved the weekends where she and her brother would go out dancing. It was during this time she met Hugh “Hughie” Hosick. She mentioned that being a woman in Cordova at the time meant having a lot of suitors, but she picked Hughie to marry in 1956 because he loved her children.

After marriage, while she was still working for Pacific Northern Airlines, the couple purchased a bar in 1960 from “Nick” Nicolet, which unfortunately burnt down in the Main Street fire of 1963. They decided to rebuild on the town dock and named it the Anchor Bar which became unusable after the earthquake of 1964. They then built a new Anchor Bar on the dredged landfill where the old dock was. In 1972 they purchased a tender, the Steelhead, which became a stalwart fixture in Prince William Sound. Toni would often mention that she started the practice of giving ice cream to the kids on board the seiners. She said it wasn’t fair that on Friday night closures the adults got beer and the kids didn’t get a treat. Pretty soon, the adults looked forward to the ice cream as much as the kids. They sold the Anchor Bar in 1981 and started spending their winters traveling the lower 48 using a small acreage in Blanco, Texas as their home base.

It was during these years that Toni, sometimes with Hughie, traveled the world.  In her vast array of photos, souvenirs and matchbooks could be found items spanning the globe from China to Papua New Guinea, Spain to Mexico, and of course her Polish homeland. When asked what country she liked the best, she always said America. To her, traveling was great, but coming home to America, the place her mother called “God’s country for women” was the best.  She and Hughie also liked to spend a month or so in Hawaii during the winter with whichever of their kids were able to be there. She continued to travel there even after Hughie’s passing in 1995. She would do her best to divide holidays between her kids and their families around the country, making sure to keep up the Polish Christmas Eve traditions rooted in her Polish Catholic upbringing. As the years passed and she was the only one in the family who still spoke Polish, she would be called upon to speak the Polish blessing and lead the sharing of the Oplatki (blessed bread). While not a church going woman, she could be counted on to pray for everyone in her extensive family every night; prayers for those still living as well as those who had gone before.

She was preceded in death by her husband Hugh Hosick, her father and mother Frank and Josephine Mala, her brothers Stanley, Charlie and Jimmy Mala, her sister Francis Johnson, her sons Bob and Hank (Linda)Blake, and her daughter Antonina (Frank) Cvar.  She leaves behind her son Peter (Robin) Blake and her daughter Susie Lamb as well as 20 grandchildren, numerous great-grandchildren and even a few great-great-grandchildren who continue her legacy of resilience, hard work and tradition. “Dziękujemy za tych, którzy byli przed nami”, “For those who have gone before us, we give thanks.”