Jean Hunt, left, and Fred Thorsteinson are the new queen regeant and king regeant of the Alaska Pioneer’s, Igloo 6. (Kevin Gullufsen | Juneau Empire)

Behold the new stars: Pioneers crown new royalty

“Behold the new star” is the translation of the Alaska Pioneers, Grand Igloo’s motto, Ecce Novum Astrum.

Friends and visitors to the Juneau Pioneers Home beheld two new stars Saturday as Fred Thorsteinson and Jean Hunt were crowned the new king and queen regents of the Alaska Pioneers’ Juneau chapter, Igloo 6.

The century-old group, which works to preserve Alaska history, literature and culture, honored the pair of longtime volunteers after Hunt and Thorsteinson were voted by members to serve as figureheads for the Juneau chapter.

After cutting a celebratory cake, Hunt told the Empire she was surprised to hear that her peers had voted for her.

“I am absolutely flabbergasted. That was very top of my ‘It won’t happen’ list,” Hunt said.

Described as a go-getter of a volunteer, Hunt has lived in Alaska for 49 years. Members have to live in Alaska for at least 20 years and be at least 21 years old.

“She doesn’t have to be asked, she just sees the need and does it,” Thorsteinson said.

Thorsteinson is an accomplished volunteer. He moved to Alaska in 1957 and joined the Pioneers of Alaska in 2004, first serving as second vice president, then as first vice president. After a previous president fell ill, he served for more than seven years as Igloo 6 president, then became president of the Grand Igloo.

He’s a den leader with Cub Scout Pack 6 in Auke Bay and a veteran of the Alaska National Guard, with which he served 20 years of active duty, retiring in 1999. He then worked for the State of Alaska Department of Transportation until his retirement around 2014.

“It’s an honor to me,” to be named king regent, Thorsteinson said. “Unlike all the other positions where you volunteer and you’re elected, this is one where your peers select you to represent the entire organization.”

Hunt has been involved with Igloo 6 since about 1998, she said. She lives with her sister in Juneau. Her husband Ronnie Hunt passed away in 2003.

Alaska Pioneers have their hands in many volunteer efforts in Juneau. They helped fundraise for the whale sculpture at Mayor Bill Overstreet Park and the Seward Statue near the Alaska Capitol. The group hosts five $2000 scholarships each year and is working on a series of historical plaques teaching the history of the Princess Sophia disaster.

Igloo 6 meets once a month. It has a men’s board and women’s board. The boards used to meet seperately, but after membership dwindled, they merged, deciding to take turns running meetings, Hunt said. Membership is open. Applications sometimes take a month or two to process, Hunt said, as they’re reviewed by the board.

Terry and Dee Brenner were outfitted as King and Queen Regents of the Pioneers of Alaska last year. Igloo 6 elects a new king and queen every year, alternating between married and single people, Thorsteinson said.

Thorsteinson is 68. When asked if the Empire could ask for Hunt’s age, she said “no,” but that she’s older than 39.

• Contact reporter Kevin Gullufsen at 523-2228 and Follow him on Twitter at @KevinGullufsen.

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