Walter E. Johns, Jr.
December 3, 1939 – August 27, 2021
Walter E. Johns, Jr. passed away suddenly at his apartment in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was 81 years young born in Juneau, Alaska to Walter E. Johns, Sr., and Phyllis (Wannamaker) Johns. His grandparents were William and Margaret Wannamaker. His grandfather and father died when he was very young. Henry Cropley later married Walter’s grandmother Margaret and came into Walter’s family. Walter is an Alaska Native, a Tlingit, an Eagle of the Kaagwaantaan/Killer Whale Clan.
Walter joined the U.S. Navy in 1958 and was honorably discharged in 1960 he was proud of his service. This was displayed by the cap he wore every day. Walter began commercial fishing as a young man with his Uncle Ronald John, Sr. out of Hawk Inlet on the St. Peter, later he fished with his cousin Ronald John, Jr. on the Larguss. The John and Bennett family fished together with three boats that included the Arlene with Walter’s Uncle Joe Bennet as the Captain. While still a young man he spent his summers fishing and then moving to San Francisco where his mother and step-father had moved.
Walter lived an exciting life from a young militant who was one of the American Indians who landed on Alcatraz to serving two terms as a member of an Alaska Native Corporation, Goldbelt Board of Directors from 2000 to 2006. During these terms, he served as the Chairman of the Board and on various Board Committees including the Audit, Investment, Shareholders Relations, Lands, Nominations, and Election. Walter was a strong advocate for Social Justice most of his working career was in this field. He was the Executive Director of the Juneau Alaska Citizen Participation Committee, Model Cities Program; the Director of the Juneau Tlingit & Haida Corporation, the Planner for the Angoon, Alaska Village Corporation Kootznoowoo, Inc. In later years after moving to Denver, Colorado he served as the Executive Director of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs. He was a strong advocate for the rights of Native Americans continuing to speak for those who had no voice. Because of his work he created social change that made life better for his people. He was a strong advocate for the Subsistence needs of Alaska Natives; he worked to build programs that continue to serve the people in Juneau. While working at the Indian Center, here in Lincoln, Nebraska he helped bring in needed funds that kept the Indian Center operating. During his later life, he traveled across the Northern Plains States as a Minister preaching the Word of God to the Indian Reservations in Montana, North & South Dakota. He lived a great life and his many friends and relatives will miss this man who is loved by many.
Walter is survived by members of the Kaagwaantaan/Killer Whale Clan; his sons, Douglas of Lincoln, Shawn (Thresa) of San Diego; daughter Margaret of Lincoln; brother Gordon of Phoenix; sister, Kathy of Burlingame CA; grandchildren, DeeJay (Justin) Gokie, Elizabeth Tarvin of Lincoln, Ivy Scheutzow (Tony) and Nigel of Rapid City SD. His great-grandchildren Joslyn, Zander, Aden, and Amara. Also, his former wife Mary Lee Johns of Timberlake SD. Walter loved his children, grandchildren, and especially his great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Walter’s life will be at 10:00 AM on Thursday, September 9, 2021, at the Lincoln Family Funeral Care Home, 5849 Fremont Street, Lincoln. Visitation: at 6:00 to 8:00 PM with the family present. Wednesday, September 8, 2021 (All are welcome to share their thoughts and memories).
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