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Iditarod volunteer extraordinaire, Jan Newton, dies at 75

Alaska Dispatch
Loren Holmes photo

According to Alaska State Troopers, one of the Iditarod's most notable volinteers, Janice (Jan) Lanell Newton, passed away on Thursday.

Newton was a resident of Takotna, Alaska, a small village north of Anchorage, Alaska and west of McGrath. Takotna supports about 50 full time residents and is famous for its hospitality as an Iditarod checkpoint. She and her husband, Dick, were familiar faces to mushers who'd run the trail before. Many race officials, athletes and enthusiasts knew Jan Newton as helpful, kind and a terrific baker of many a delicious hot pie.

Nome radio station KNOM in 2010 said that "Newton estimates that she bakes 75-80 pies a year, and if a musher has a favorite pie, she’ll make it. (Four-time champion) Jeff King had pecans shipped to the checkpoint just so Newton could whip up a pecan pie. She says King could eat a whole pie by himself: they’re that good.

"We order one T-bone steak for each musher and a few extra for special people. So they get that one special meal."

According to Troopers, "Newton died at her residence as a result of a terminal illness. No foul play is suspected." Newton was 75. She lived in Takotna since 1972, the year before the first Iditarod.