In Loving Memory of
Walter Frederick Joseph, Sr.
Feb 25, 1925 – Feb 21, 2008
We announce, with profound sadness, the passing of Walter Frederick Joseph Sr. of Hagwilget; Gisah (Hooks the Moon) of the Laksamashu Clan. After spending the day working, doing what he loved, Walter reluctantly went into the Wrinch Memorial Hospital on February 19th. He left us suddenly on February 21 at daybreak, the morning after the lunar eclipse. We will miss him in so many ways – as a husband, as a father, as a mentor and role model, as a teacher, as a friend, and as simply – a good man.
Walter was raised in a traditional Wet’suwet’en manner, spending a good part of his early life working the Suskwa trapping and hunting territories of his grandmother Deleeze (Theresa) Grey and mother Julia Jones, each, in turn, holding the name Kloum Khun. Although denied the opportunity of an education, having left the Hagwilget School in Grade 5, Walter was a self-made man. Walter learned and excelled at many trades: electrician, carpenter, plumber, welder, small engine repairer, auto mechanic, and auto body worker. A strong sense of self-reliance prompted Walter to establish a trucking business in the mid 1950s, even though he risked losing his Indian Status for working off-reserve over extended periods. He developed his skills as a jewelry maker and carver, and one of his masks was acquired by the Royal BC Provincial Museum for their collection of West Coast Indian art.
Walter served in public life in many ways. He was elected Chief Councilor of Hagwilget three times – 1954, 1975 and 1977 – and he was Councilor for 14 years. Walter served terms as board member of the Wrinch Memorial Hospital, Wilp Si’Satxw House of Purification Society, Upper Skeena Counseling & Legal Assistance Society, and he participated in the founding of the Gitksan – Carrier Tribal Council.
Left to mourn and honour his memory are Louise, his wife, friend and help mate of 62 years, his children: Larry (Lynn), Rhea, Bertha, Gene, Linda (Norman), Walter Jr., Gary, Eilleen, Patrick (Jeannie), Richard (Sheila), and Cynthia (John), and his twelve grandchildren. His daughter Shirley predeceases him.
Walter’s Funeral Service was held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in New Hazelton on February 25th, the date of his birth. Walter requested no memorial and a cremation, with his ashes to be spread in his family’s Suskwa hunting and trapping area. Walter revisited the Suskwa area in a 2007 helicopter flight, a Father’s Day gift that thrilled him.