Ben Johnson (May 22, 1939 - March 31, 2014)

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Ben Johnson of Neah Bay died at Olympic Medical Center on March 31, 2014, following a heart attack.

He was born in Neah Bay to Bender Johnson Sr. and Harriet Eliot Stewart.

He received his associate degree from Peninsula College and had numerous certificates and a fisheries technician degree.

Fishing was his life. Starting at 5 years old with his father and grandfather, he took to fishing on his own at 14 in order to purchase school clothes and supplies and other necessities

He spent the majority of his life fishing for a living and spent time as a biologist assistant for the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries on the research vessel George B. Kelez in the Bering Sea.

He also devoted his life to the Makah tribal people, serving with the Makah Housing Authority, as fisheries director, executive director of the Makah Tribe Youth Program, charter boat skipper and Bureau of Indian Affairs policeman. Most importantly, he served on the Makah Tribal Council for nine years, serving as chairman for several of those years.

He was an excellent leader who had great knowledge in many areas. He had an understanding of people, was a great communicator and was builder of a string relationships with the tribes, making sure all was fair.

His marriage to Shirley (Ward) Johnson ended in divorce.

Later, he married Jeanne Johnson, and together, they spent 21 happy years.

He leaves behind his loving wife, Jeanne Johnson; children Lawanda (Dave) of Neah Bay, Lois (Hal) of Canon City, Colorado, Brenda (Steve) of Port Angeles, Jon (Lorna) of Neah Bay and Cory (Hazel) of Neah Bay. He also leaves behind his brothers, Donald (Mary) Johnson, Mark Johnson and Paul Johnson; sister Marcy (Cotton); 30 grandchildren; and 51 great-grandchildren.

Ben was preceded in death by his parents, Ben Sr. and Harriet (Penn) Stewart; and family Leonard Johnson, Starr Johnson, Benita Heilman (Johnson), Jacob Mortin, Yvonne Jackson and Madison Greene.

A celebration of Ben's life is to be held on Saturday, April 5, 2014, at 1 p.m. in the Neah Bay Community Gym, 1394 Bayview Avenue, with a dinner to follow. He will be laid to rest at Neah Bay Cemetery on state Highway 112 West.

Contributions to his family can be made to Lawanda Greene, P.O. Box 530, Neah Bay, WA 98357.
Published in The Peninsula Daily News on Apr. 4, 2014
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