Elsie Lena John


Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lifelong Alaska resident Elsie L. John died of natural causes Thursday, Dec. 13, at her home in Juneau with her family by her side. She was 91.

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She was born in Angoon on June 6, 1916, to Charlie and Annie (Johnson) Bennett. She was Deisheetaan Raven-Beaver from the Raven House of Angoon. Her Tlingit names were Kaa Ju Hein and Noow Tei Yi, and she spoke Tlingit fluently. Elsie married her lifelong love, Ronald John Sr. in Juneau on Oct. 28, 1933, and together they raised 10 children.

She was raised in Sitka and attended Sheldon Jackson School until 1928. She then moved with her parents to Angoon, where she attended elementary school, sang in the choir and taught Sunday school. She joined the Missionary Society, holding the offices of president and secretary, and was an active member of Christian Endeavor.

She joined the Angoon Alaska Native Sisterhood in 1932 and was a lifetime member. She was a shareholder of Sealaska Corp., Goldbelt Inc., Kootznoowoo Inc. and was a member of the Tlingit & Haida Central Council.

She enjoyed sewing, crocheting and beading, and made beautiful clan vests for each of her children and their spouses. She also worked various jobs at the Hood Bay, Hawk Inlet, Tenakee Springs and Chatham canneries, fished with her husband on the vessel St. Peter, and sold Avon products for many years.

She belonged to many churches. She spent her life worshipping the Lord, and especially loved to sing Christian songs with her husband, family and friends. She and her husband started a prayer group in 1964 and later led a singing group.

She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Ronald; children, Gilbert Paul John, Gilbert James John, a baby girl (unnamed), and daughter, Christina Hanlon; and brothers James, Paul, Thomas and Joe Bennett Sr.

John is survived by her daughters, Eleanor John of Juneau, Bernice Donnelly and her husband, Wilbur, of Juneau, Sandra Cross and her husband, Michael, of Juneau, and Delores Gardipee and her husband, Fred, of Seattle; sons, Ronald John Jr. of Juneau, Edward John and his wife, Lora, of Juneau, Leonard John and his wife, Marilyn, of Fairbanks, Charlie John and his wife, Mary, of Juneau, and Reginald John and his wife, Debbie, of Spanaway, Wash.; sisters, Margaret Gamble and her husband, Charles, Harriet Chilton and June Pegues, all of Juneau; sisters-in-law, Alice Bennett of Juneau, and Martha Jackson of Kake; 32 grandchildren; 38 great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild; and numerous nieces, nephews and close friends. She is also survived by several adopted children: Emily Bennett of Juneau; Nona Hasegawa of Seattle; Betty McNevin of Juneau; Evans Kadake of Kake; the Rev. Bo Molien of Vancouver, Wash.; Ken Hildre of Juneau; Walter Adams of Juneau; and the late Rev. George McNevin.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall in Juneau. The funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Glacier Valley Church of God.

Condolences can be sent to the John family at 1821 Wickersham Drive, Juneau, AK 99801, or call 586-1193, or 586-1980.

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