Chris Maggio and Becky Silvers Mull pose after dropping off supplies to Upper Dewey Lake. PHOTO BY ELISE GIORDANO
By DAN FOX
In tribute to beloved Skagwegian Chris Maggio, the Skagway Arts Council is going all-out with live music and entertainment from 5-8 p.m. on Aug. 19 at Dedman Stage, with proceeds going to a scholarship named in Maggio’s honor.
Maggio had moved to Skagway in 1992. Coming from a background of flying gunships for the U.S. Army in Vietnam, Maggio took to the skies once more when he arrived in Skagway with a job at Temsco Helicopter Inc.
After over 24 years in the Alaska airspace, Maggio tragically died when his helicopter crashed near Denver Glacier in 2016, during a supply run to a sled dog camp.
“It was a real blow to everyone,” said Denise Caposey, Maggio’s longtime significant other. “Because you know, an accident like that, he’s here one day and gone the next. No illness, no long, drawn out-end-of life kind of thing.”
Caposey recalled that Maggio often said he would “fly until he couldn’t,” referring to physical exams required of pilots.
“I like to think of it as he went out on the top of his game,” Caposey said. “He was going to fly until they told him he couldn’t, so he really did fly right up to the end.”
While aviation was a large part of Maggio’s life, Caposey said one of his defining characteristics was an overabundance of generosity.
His touch showed up in different ways around town, partly due to having a large variety of skills, crafts, interests and trades beneath his belt.
“You needed a table refinished, they’d bring it to him…and he would just drop everything and do that, whatever that project was,” Caposey said. “One of the quotes that a good friend of his said to me when she called was, ‘he always made you feel special, like you were the only person in the world at that moment.’” At silent auction benefits in town, Caposey said Maggio would get wild with his bids to try and get other participants going.
“And then end up like thousands of dollars later going, ‘wow, look what I got,’” Caposey said. “But always just trying to encourage the fundraising and the spirit of it.”
In his 20-plus years in Skagway, Maggio served on both the Skagway School Board and as an active member of the Arts Council.
“He was really interested in getting the kids into the arts, so he bought ukulele kits…and you could take the class with him and he would show you how to put it all together, and then once it was all constructed…he would encourage the people who took his class to decorate their ukuleles,” Caposey said.
Proceeds from the Aug. 19 event will benefit the Chris Maggio Scholarship, which is distributed by the Arts Council to local people of all ages pursuing artistic endeavors.
Headlining the music portion of the Aug. 19 event is Jason Freddy, an artist from the United Kingdom who has opened for the likes of Neil Young, Tears For Fears and Joe Crocker. Emcee for the evening is Andrew Nadon, whose aLittleMentalist act features bursts of magic and mind-bending feats.
Deborah Morse, who is organizing the event, said activities like face-painting and cornhole competitions will be available alongside root beer floats, hamburgers and hot dogs to enjoy.
“We hope it has a warm, family atmosphere, which is very much in Chris’s spirit,” Morse said.