John Roy Winther Jr., well-known Alaska businessman, fisherman and long-time resident of Petersburg, passed away Oct. 15, 2012, at 67, following a battle with cancer. He had his wife, Berta, and daughter, Theresa, by his side. He passed away in Mesa, Ariz., where he was undergoing treatment.
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John was born Nov. 12, 1944, in Fairbanks to John Roy Winther Sr., and Jane Wood Winther. He spent his childhood in Juneau, then returned with his family to Fairbanks to be close to his mother's family, which settled there in 1899.
John graduated from Lathrop High School in 1963, then attended junior college in California and Washington state before deciding to pursue his passion of becoming a fisherman, following in the footsteps of his paternal grandfather, father, uncle and several great uncles, including Olaf Winther and Gudmund "Gudy" Winther, with whom he was particularly close. He settled in Petersburg in 1972.
John began fishing with his uncle Olaf on the F/V Fremont, which he later purchased. Shortly thereafter, he fished the F/V Constitution before embarking into the Bering Sea crabbing industry.
In 1974, John and partner Collin Martens built the F/V Theresa Marie, which at the time was the pride of the Southeast Alaska crab fleet, and was operated by partner and nephew, Wayne Winther, from 2002 until it was sold in 2010.
In 1984, John ventured into longlining with the purchase of the F/V Prowler. He partnered with Bart Eaton and Jerry Kennedy, and the trio began building what became Prowler Fisheries and later Alaska Longline Company, running the F/V Prowler, Bering Prowler and Ocean Prowler.
In 2000, the company partnered with the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association. In 2009, it acquired two vessels and fishing rights in a company expansion, and this year, it launched the construction of the F/V Arctic Prowler.
John was active in business ventures and volunteered in the private and public sectors. He was a director of Icicle Seafoods (1980-1992), North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (1983-1989), and Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (2003-2011). He also founded Ultrastar Exploration and Winstar Petroleum.
John was known for his dedication to the commercial fishing industry and was highly regarded by the Alaska congressional delegation. He forged relationships with U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, U.S. Sen. and Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, U.S. Rep. Don Young, and Alaska Gov. Bill Sheffield.
Preceded in death by his father, John Roy Winther, Sr., John leaves behind his loving wife, Berta "Bert" Winther, of Seattle; daughter, Theresa Winther, and granddaughter Stella Asplund of Petersburg; mother, Jane Pryor; and brothers, Rick Winther and Dale Winther, all of Fairbanks.
He also is survived by his aunt, Jirdes Winther Baxter; cousins, Fred Baxter, Ron Baxter, Gary Baxter, Terry Baxter, Sandra Dunn, Sherill Baxter, Leslie Winther Dumont and Jensine Winther Hayden.
A memorial service is planned for 1 p.m., Oct. 27, 2012, at Magnolia Lutheran Church, Seattle.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in John's name to one of the following organizations or to a
: An Oasis of Healing (Mesa, Arizona); University of Washington Department of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, Otolaryngology HNS Research Fund; Coast Guard Foundation (Stonington, Connecticut); or the Seattle Fishermen's Memorial.
Published in Daily News-Miner on Oct. 24, 2012