John Sam Bozanich died peacefully at his home in Thousand Palms, CA from kidney cancer February 7, 2012. He was born April 5, 1919 to Katie & Nick Bozanich in Brookfield, WA. The entire family, including his brother Nick, then lived and fished in Pillar Rock, WA and later all of them moved and settled in Astoria, OR.
John had a long and successful 68 year career in the commercial fishing industry working both on the Columbia River and in the Alaskan waters as a gillnet fisherman and as a Superintendent of a cannery and freezer plant. He began gillnet fishing as a young man with the Columbia River Packers Association at the George Barker receiving station in the late 1930's. He was drafted into the US Army during WWII in 1941 as a Medical Corpsman and served in the Philippines and New Guinea. He returned to Astoria in 1945 and continued fishing for the same company for the next 30+ years, much of that time on his boat, the Harmony. He and his brother Nick fished Alaskan waters at Naknek, into the 1950's. John continued Alaskan fishing into the 1970's.
In the off-fishing/winter season, from the 1950's to the 1970's, he worked as a machinist and mechanic for Astoria Marine Construction Company at Tongue Point and the Ship Yard. Wards Cove Packing Company in Seattle, WA hired John for a management position at Igegik, AK. In 1978 he was promoted to Superintendent of the Ekuk Cannery & Freezer Plant where he worked until he retired in 2000.
He loved the fishing industry and the people in it. Fishermen described John as: a gentleman; a good man; a great guy; honest and with a big smile. Others have called him a "champion of the fishermen". Some have said he was so well thought of because he helped so many fishermen and that they could count on John for he was just a phone call away, when they needed help in the Alaskan waters.
In retirement, he enjoyed boating in the Puget Sound in Canada, with his wife June and the Everett Yacht Club as well as golfing with his friends in Thousand Palms, CA.
A Celebration of Life mass and rosary will be held March 1, 2012 at 1 p.m. at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 45-775 Deep Canyon Rd., Palm Desert, CA. A gathering of friends and family will follow at the family home. In lieu of flowers, donate to the Columbia River Gillnetter, PO Box 627, Astoria, OR 97103. To view and sign the guest book, go to mydesert.com/obituaries.
His wife Winnie, of 42 years; his parents, Nick "Cap" & Katie Bozanich; his older brother Nick Frank Bozanich; and his older sister Winnie Fadich all preceded him in death.
He is survived by his wife, June Ellison Bozanich of Thousand Palms; his daughter Barbara Bozanich Ferguson of Surprise, AZ; his grandson, Douglas Fritz Ferguson of Clinton, WA; Dick & Debbie Bozanich of Port Ludlow, WA; Carol & Murlan Winjum of Brinnon, WA; Kathy Bozanich LaPlante of Beaverton, OR ; Bobbie & Steve Varner of Portland, OR; Burton & Bertha Fadich of Seattle, WA; Ray Fadich of Kapaau, HI; Joan Fadich of Nashville, TN; Kim Ellison McDonald of Kenmore, WA; Cindy & Virgil Ruiz of Seaside, OR; Kurt, Craig, and Jaylene Ellison of Puyallup, WA.
John was God's gift to his family, friends, and co-workers. His spirit lives on in our hearts forever.