John Roy Winther, Jr., 67, well-known Alaskan businessman and fisherman and long-time resident of Petersburg, passed away on October 15, 2012 in Mesa, Ariz. following a battle with cancer with his wife, Berta, and daughter, Theresa, by his side.
John was born on November 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.
He decided 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 where he 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 very 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 well known for his dedication to the commercial fishing industry and was highly regarded by the Alaska congressional delegation. He forged relationships over the years 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.
He was 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; brothers Rick Winther and Dale Winther, all of Fairbanks; aunt Jirdes Winther Baxter; and 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 October 27 at 1 p.m. at Magnolia Lutheran Church, 2414 31st Ave. W., Seattle. A reception will follow at Anthony’s Homeport Shilshole Bay, 6135 Seaview Ave., N.W., Seattle.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in John’s name to one of the following organizations or to a charity of choice: An Oasis of Healing, contact email@example.com; University of Washington Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, Otolaryngology HNS Research Fund, PO Box 359505, Seattle, 98195; Coast Guard Foundation, www.coastguardfoundation; or the Seattle Fishermen’s Memorial, PO Box 17356, Seattle, Washington, 98127.