Joseph Demmert Jr.


Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Lifelong Alaskan Joseph Demmert Jr., 79, died Nov. 28, 2005, at Ketchikan General Hospital after a prolonged battle with cancer.

He was born in Klawock on Oct. 3, 1926, to Joseph and Isabelle Roberts Demmert. He was a member of the Teeyeeneidi (Dog Salmon/Raven) clan of Tuxekan. His father was Yanyeidi from Shakan.

Because he loved the sea and boats as a young boy, he was often called "Capt. John." As a young man, he trolled and purse seined with his father. After graduating from Sheldon Jackson High School in 1944, he served in the Merchant Marines and the U.S. Army. After service, he returned to purse seining, first as captain of the Joanna, then the Corrine and finally the Lovey Joann. For the rest of his life, he was a salmon and herring purse seiner and halibut longliner.

Family members said, "Joe loved his boats and always gave them the greatest of care. ... Mr. Demmert will long be remembered by those who knew him for his low-key thoughtfulness, leadership and generosity."

He served on the Alaska Board of Fish and Game, including several terms as chairman, before separate boards were created. He then acted as chairman of the Fisheries Board. He also served on the North Pacific Fisheries Council and was widely respected for his study and extensive knowledge of fisheries. He was a lifetime member of the Alaska Native Brotherhood, served on the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indians and was a longstanding member of the Sealaska Board of Directors and Sealaska Timber Corp. Board of Directors.

He married Dorothy Edenso, and they raised six children, Ramona, Joseph Ron, Suzanne, Lovey, Craig and Dorene. After the death of their daughter, Ramona Demmert DeWitt, the Demmerts raised her son, Jerry. In 2001, Joe and Dorothy celebrated 50 years together.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Isabelle; daughter, Ramona; wife, Dorothy; brothers, Franklin, Harvey and Robert "Benny;" and sisters, Dolly Jensen and Joanna Demmert.

He is survived by his children, Joseph Ron, Lovey (Scott) Keele, Suzanne (Ed) Waldrop, Craig Demmert, Dorene Demmert and Jerry Demmert; brothers, Dennis and George; sister, Mrs. Gordon (Rachel) James; fiancé, Helen Leask; seven grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and many nephews and nieces.

A memorial service was held at the Ted Ferry Civic Center in Ketchikan on Nov. 30. Funeral services were held at the Ted Ferry Civic Center on Dec. 1, with interment at Bayview Cemetery and a luncheon and celebration of his life following the cemetery services.

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