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Iditarod Founder Passes

2024 will mark the first time in 50 years that mushers reach the Iditarod finish line without Howard Farley waiting for them.

Originally from Detroit, Farley also lived in Florida and Seattle before he enlisted in the US Coast Guard in 1950. When his Coast Guard service brought him to Nome, he fell in love with the community and knew that this was where he wanted to lay down roots. Once he returned to civilian life, he settled in Nome and met a King Island Inupiaq woman named Julie. Howard and Julie were married for 56 years until she passed in October 2023, and were blessed with ten children.

Over the years, Farley proved himself to be a beloved pillar of the Nome community. Most notably, he helped found the Iditarod, even running the first Great Race himself in 1973. For decades afterward, he managed the Nome end of the race, and every single year he was waiting at the finish line to welcome mushers to Nome.

Farley passed peacefully at home at age 91. His funeral was held at St Joseph Catholic Church in Nome, and KNOM broadcast it live to Western Alaska.

Image at top: Howard Farley (right) pictured with fellow Iditarod founder, Joe Redington Sr. Photo courtesy of Jeff Schultz photography.

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