Douglas "Sy" Neeley
Sy Neeley was born in Washington, but moved to Alaska with his family when he was a small child. They traveled around because his father worked for the Alaska Road Commission. He came to the Copper River Valley in 1942, a time he remembers as bustling with road construction and pioneering developments that coincided with preparations for defense in World War II. Always interested in things mechanical, Sy recalls that with so much machinery and frantic activity, the area was for him a boyhood paradise. He describes growing up at the Chistochina Lodge, which his parents ran and which he later took over. He provides an account of spending several glorious and mischievous weeks up at the Nabesna mine at the height of its activity, a time when it was the nation's most advanced mine. By age thirteen, Sy was passing himself off as sixteen and driving a truck on the roads, making what was then a considerable sum of money. In his late teens, Sy met Carol, who grew up in Glennallen. Eventually, they married and had children. They had several businesses, including a sanitation service, tax preparation, and a bed and breakfast out of their home.