The Reverend Doctor Walter Soboleff has died at the age of 102 and a half. He passed away Sunday morning at his home in Juneau.
For more than 70 years, the Tlingit Presbyterian served in church pulpits, as a traveling minister, and university professor. He was the first Native pastor in Juneau at a time when the town was segregated — but his church was open to all.
Walter Soboleff has often been called the spiritual and cultural standard bearer of the Tlingit people, but his influence touched everyone.
“He spoke to the whole world. He happened to be Tlingit, but he really always spoke to the whole world, as selflessly as you can do that,” said his youngest son, Ross Soboleff.
Dr. Soboleff’s life spanned a period of tremendous change in Alaska and for Alaska Natives.
He saw the development of the Alaska Native Brother and Sisterhoods, Alaska statehood, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, and Native corporations as well as the integration of an Alaskan society that once discriminated against his people.
He is survived by four children and several grandchildren. Services are pending.
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