Joel Wayne Johnson


Posted: Sunday, May 06, 2007

Juneau resident Joel Wayne Johnson died May 4, 2007, at the Juneau Pioneers' Home, where he had been living for almost four years. He was 97.

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He was born Nov. 14, 1909, in Woods County, Okla., to Landy York and Clara (Overstreet) Johnson. He spent his early years on a farm in the Walnut Grove area and later the family moved to Waynoka where he graduated from high school in 1928.

While still in school, he worked for the local dry cleaning operator and learned dry cleaning.

In the mid-1930s he left California to go to Seattle to seek employment. While there, he was contacted by Hermia Darnell, owner of the Triangle Cleaners in Juneau and offered a job.

He worked for the Triangle until his health suffered due to the chemicals being used and decided to try his luck at hand trolling. While fishing near Point Retreat, he was approached by the light house keeper who had an emergency and need for an assistant. He took the job and stayed there for 18 months.

Returning to Juneau, he married Normajane Porter, and they purchased a troller, starting their life together commercial fishing. After two seasons, they had the opportunity to purchase the City Dry Cleaners which they owned and operated successfully for over 30 years. Family members said he had a real talent blocking knit garments and had customers throughout the territory who would send those to him.

Family members said he was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to fish and hunt. He and his wife spent many hours hunting and fishing from their boat the Silver Spray and later from the Normajane. He was a charter member of the Territorial Sportsman and the Yacht Club and later of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. He was a great storyteller and entertained his family and friends with the many stories of their adventures, said his family.

According to family members, he loved Alaska, especially the Juneau area. He was active politically and served on the council and as mayor. He was a member of the Elks Club and of the Pioneers' of Alaska. As a Coast Guard Auxiliary member, he became the first inspector examiner in the Juneau flotilla and later the district commodore. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Coast Guard Auxiliary in Haines. He received a commendation from President Richard Nixon for the rescue of a fisherman during a severe storm.

He was preceded in death by his parents, sisters, Fern Abdill and Audrey Ingram; and wife, Normajane Johnson.

He is survived by his son, Jeffrey Wayne and his wife, Candy, of Lynden, Wash.; granddaughter, Eveonne Ames and her husband, Dan, of Vancouver, Wash.; grandson, Jordan Johnson, of Lynden; three great-grandchildren; nephew, Keith Abdill and his wife, Carroll, of Hoods Point, Wash.; cousin, Bill Overstreet and wife, Jean, of Juneau; and other relatives and friends.

The family can be reached at Wayne Johnson, 817 Aaron Drive, No. 214, Lynden, WA 98264. Remembrances can be made to the Waynoka Historical Society, P.O. Box 193, Waynoka, OK 73860.

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