Former Mayor Wayne Johnson celebrates his 95th birthday

Johnson one of four from Waynoka, Okla., to make home in Juneau

Posted: Friday, November 19, 2004

Former Juneau mayor and business owner Wayne Johnson celebrated his 95th birthday Nov. 14 at the Juneau Pioneers' Home. Born in 1909 in Waynoka, Okla., Johnson was one of four citizens of that town to migrate to Juneau during territorial days.

Johnson's first cousin, Bill Overstreet, also a former mayor of Juneau, once remarked, "Four of us came to Juneau before statehood. Two of us became mayor, two of us won the Golden North Salmon Derby, one of us came in second in the derby, and one of us was voted Federal Employee of the Year. Not bad for a bunch of Okies!"

Both Overstreet and fellow fisherman Reynolds Young were derby winners, while Overstreet's wife, Jean, placed second one year and also was voted Federal Employee of the Year.

During World War II, Johnson became a member of the Alaska Territorial Guard, charged with doing his part to protect communities against invasion during the war.

"My duty was to patrol Seward Street from Sixth to the waterfront during that time," Johnson said. "I was given strict orders to shoot any invading Japanese soldier on sight. The only Japanese fellow I ever saw during that time came from the City Café and he brought me my lunch. I wasn't about to shoot him."

Sen. Ted Stevens came to the Pioneer's Home recently and presented Alaska Territorial Guard discharge papers to Johnson, ending Johnson's long career with the unit.

Johnson and his bride of 60 years, Normajane, operated the City Cleaners, a business on South Franklin Street about where the Red Dog Saloon is now located. Johnson was also a commercial salmon troller and the lighthouse keeper at Point Retreat.

The couple reside in the Pioneers' Home these days, where one will find Wayne at the weekly bridge table playing his favorite game.

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