Former Homer resident Gavin Arthur Priest, 51, died Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, in Valdez after a long battle with cancer. His final hours were spent surrounded by his family and friends who played and sang his favorite worship songs.
Gavin was born July 3, 1962, in Carlisle, England, although he said he’d always wished he had been born 7 miles north so that he could have been born in Scotland. He identified mostly with his mother’s Scottish heritage and never lost his Scottish brogue. He moved around England following his father’s work, and moved to the United States when he was 12.
His family relocated several times, and by the time he was 18 he had visited almost every state. He then traveled on his own, setting foot on almost every continent and visiting numerous countries along the way. He spent his 20s working and traveling. His son, Keagan, was born in 1986.
In the summer when he turned 30, he drove to Alaska with some friends, saving the best for last. They drove to the end of the road in Homer and he found work at Icicle Seafoods, where he met his wife, Phyllis. They were married in Homer and had their first child there, Brennan, born in 1995. He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in Homer in 1996. Gavin was working at the Icicle plant when it exploded in 1998. He and his family returned to Homer most summers while attending Eastern Oregon University, in LaGrande, Ore. His daughter, Alivia, was born in LaGrande in 1998.
While at Eastern Oregon, he played on a college soccer team, coached a high school soccer team and renewed his love of playing guitar. Gavin graduated with honors in history and Spanish.
He taught high school history and Spanish in North Pole and Fairbanks before returning to school and receiving another degree in process technology. He then worked in the gold and oil industries until his death. He loved traveling, playing guitar and soccer (football). His passion for playing guitar found expression in the worship team at Faith Harbor Fellowship.
He is survived by his wife, Phyllis (Harris); sons, Keagan and Brennan; daughter, Alivia; mother, Audrey, and her husband, Ray Cardenas; sisters, Samantha and Kate and their families; brother, Bryan; stepbrother, Ray Jr. and wife Cindy; stepmother, Sheryl; uncles, Tony and Dennis; mother-in-law, Roberta Harris; brother-in-law, Henry Harris and his wife, Kelly; nephews, Zachary and Joshua. He was proceeded in death by his father, David, and his Nan, Elizabeth.
He will be missed by all his friends and family. In his final months, Gavin was blessed with friends and family who gathered around him and offered their love and support for their friend. A memorial service was held in Valdez on Nov. 30, 2013. His ashes will be sprinkled where he played football with his beloved grandfather, Arthur Nicholson.