NOVEMBER 14, 1908


Soboleff, whose name meant “One slain in battle,” was born in Killisnoo, Alaska. His influences included Abraham Lincoln, Booker T. Washington, and Rudyard Kipling. Walter received a scholarship in 1933 to the University of Dubuque in Iowa and earned his Bachelor’s Degree in education & graduate degree in divinity there. In 1940, after ordainment, Soboleff settled in Juneau as pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church, but spread his ministry by radio and via fishing boats to villages and logging camps. At age 100, Walter was championing Native rights, cultural education, and love for humanity. He was also engaged at Council, and in both Sealaska and the Alaska Native Brotherhood. Walter’s greatest lesson: “Take care of the old person you are going to become.” Asked what he wanted for his 100th birthday, he first thought about a wild game stew, but simply asked for no more wars. “Respect People.  Respect yourself, too, and other people will respect you.” He died at home amongst family on May 22, 2011.

Klas Stolpe, "Noted Tlingit elder Walter Soboleff dies," Juneau Empire, 6/22/2011.  Retrieved 7/1/2019, 
Deirdre L. McGee, “Alaskan Tlingit Elder Leaves Long-Lasting Legacy,” U.S. Department of Agriculture, 6/24/2011.  Retrieved 7/1/2019,
Photo:  U.S. Department of Agriculture, date unknown.  Public Domain.  

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