On the morning of December 30, 2021, Dorothy Elizabeth Johnson, a Tlingit elder, and lifelong Ketchikan resident, gracefully left this world. As her spirit walked into the forest for the last time, I imagine there was a pause; very briefly, as she turned to blow us all one last kiss. Her spirit made its way to the top of Deer Mountain, where her daughter Dianna Lynn has been patiently waiting for over a decade. With her baby as her guide, Dorothy made her grand entrance into the spirit world at the age of 76, undoubtedly just in time to throw a New Year’s party unlike anything the afterlife has ever seen.
Dorothy was born at her family home in Sitka, Alaska on March 22, 1945, to parents Ada and George Allard, as the middle child of 14 siblings. She grew up in a modest household, with a working-class father who did his best to provide for his family by hunting and fishing and teaching his children to provide for each other. Her mother was said to be a fantastic cook and insisted all of her children (boys and girls) not only knew their way around the kitchen but also taught them how to sew and repair fabrics.
Dorothy left her childhood home at 17, moving to Ketchikan, AK in 1963; where she worked on fishing boats as a salmon troller and purse seiner for upwards of 17 years. She also worked at the FIP cannery as well as KIC (Ketchikan Indian Corporation), where she was appointed by the IRA council as Secretary of the Election Board in 2019. Shortly after her arrival in Ketchikan she met her lifelong best friends, Joann Barsick and Bert Hamilton. For 59 years they cruised the streets of Ketchikan, causing trouble, breaking hearts, and inevitably becoming the nosey Naans we all know and love. She had several meaningful relationships throughout her life and it’s no wonder that love was never lost on her. Not only could she hustle anyone at a game of pool, but she did so with style, grace and a bit of sass. Dorothy’s adventurous spirit was contagious; while in her presence, you were met with the feeling that you were on the precipice of some sort of grand adventure. It’s no secret that she enchanted us all and will be greatly missed.
Dorothy is reunited with her daughter, Diana Lynn Aiken, who passed away in 2010. She is survived by her granddaughters Courtney Aiken, Tessa Aiken, and Sophia Mehta, her niece Ada Scott; her “best pal” and “bestest bud” Joan Barsick and Bert Hamilton; her partner Steve Southmayd and all who knew her light and felt her love.
Due to indeterminate circumstances at the time of her death, including COVID-19 and weather – services will be held this summer and will be announced sometime in the spring.