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A true Alaska coal mining pioneer passes

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Coal Mine Usibelli Joseph Usibelli, Sr., an Alaska mining pioneer in the truest sense, passed away on May 14.

Joe Sr., who was born on Dec. 28, 1938, in Suntrana, a historic Alaska mining town about 3.5 miles east of Healy, has spent his entire life working in the mining industry.

Joe Usibelli, the son of Emil and Rose Usibelli, became president of Usibelli Coal Mine when he was twenty-five years old, after his father died suddenly in 1964. Joe modernised the mine’s equipment, introduced new mining techniques, and implemented a successful land reclamation programme that predated any regulations requiring that level of mine restoration during his 23-year tenure.

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“My father was a visionary and a pioneer in the mining industry in Alaska,” said Joe Usibelli Jr., president of Usibelli Coal Mine. “He was well-known for his ingenuity, generosity, and deep affection for his family, employees, and community. We all mourn his passing.”

Joe Jr. took over as president in 1987, and his father remained chairman until his death on May 12 in Tucson, Arizona, with wife Peggy Shumaker by his side. He died at the age of 83.

Joe is survived by Peggy, his sister Rosalie Whyel, and his six children (Joe Usibelli Jr., Cathy Usibelli, Mitch Usibelli, Anna Tavener, Rob Usibelli, and Sean Usibelli); ten grandchildren, three nieces, and three great-nieces and nephews.

The funeral and memorial arrangements will be announced later.

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