In Memoriam
John  Ketcher
Sequoyah Student 1940s


  Funeral services for  John Allen Ketcher , (Seq. Class of 1942) 89, of Tahlequah, were Friday October 21, 2011, at "The Place Where They Play", Sequoyah High School Gym. Officiating was Rev. Jerry Hensen and Rev. Lee Brewer. Serving as pall bearers are grandsons, Aaron Ketcher, Lynn Ketcher, Ave Ketcher, Daniel Brewer, John Sankey, and Mat Davis. Interment followed in the Tahlequah City Cemetery.

    His family suggests making a donation to the Sequoyah High School Scholarship Fund, the Wounded Warrior Fund, or the Cherokee Nation Historical Society in lieu of flowers.

    Deputy Chief Ketcher was born May 5, 1922 in Yonkers, OK the son of Frank and Sally (Downing) Ketcher. He passed from this life Monday October 17, 2011, at Tahlequah, Okla.

    John attended  Sequoyah Orphan Training School  near Tahlequah, served with the U.S. Navy during World War II in the Pacific on the U.S.S. New Orleans. After the war, returned to Tahlequah and attended Northeastern State University, receiving a Bachelors Degree in Education. He later completed a Masters Degree in Sociology. He worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs as an Arts and Crafts specialist at the Choctaw Agency in Philadelphia, Mississippi as well as other BIA agencies where he established crafts cooperatives. His career with the BIA took him to Haskell Institute (now University) in Lawrence, KS where he was Guidance Counselor for 10 years and to El Reno, OK, where he was director of students at Concho Indian School. From 1967 to 1974 he was an Arts and Crafts Specialist with the BIA Tahlequah Agency then transferred to the Muskogee Area Office to serve the Five Civilized Tribes until his retirement in 1979.

    John was elected to the Cherokee Tribal Council in June 1983, and during his first term elected to preside over the Council as its president and Deputy Chief to succeed Wilma Mankiller when Principle Chief Ross O. Swimmer resigned to become Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Department of Interior. Unity and economic development were John’s top priorities.

    Preceding him in death are his parents Frank and Sally Downing Ketcher, and his first wife Mildred Justice Ketcher and step son Robert Davis.

    He is survived by his wife, Colleen (Talbott) Ketcher of Tahlequah, Oklahoma; John Ketcher Jr. and his wife, Dalene of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, Gary Ketcher and his wife, Petra of Bushyhead, Oklahoma, Rick Ketcher and his wife Tracey of Pueblo, Colorado, Cherry Davis and her husband Kevin Steele of Gig Harbor, Washington, Susan Brewer and her husband, Lee of Hudson Oaks, Texas, Matthew Davis and his wife Julie of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, adopted daughter, Selena Gervais and her husband, Justin of Prairie Grove, Arkansas; by grandchildren, Ave, Anjali, Aaron, Lynn, Sarah, Leslie, John Robert, Rachel, Daniel, Amy, Quinton, Ethan, Ravyn, Matthew, Austin, Shayla and Maya, by great grandchildren, John III, Spencer, Lily, Max, Lexi, and Mila.

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Cherokee leader Ketcher dies 

He was tribe’s deputy chief for 10 years
Cathy Spaulding ~ Muskogee Phoenix ~ Mon Oct 17, 2011

      A longtime leader of the Cherokee Nation, John Ketcher is being remembered for his honor, courage and commitment to unity.

Ketcher, who spent 10 years as the tribe’s deputy chief, died Monday. He was 89.

    “It is with heavy heart that I say good-bye to my friend, former Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief John Ketcher, who went home today,” Principal Chief-elect Bill John Baker said Monday. “John Ketcher gave tirelessly to the Cherokee Nation and our people. He is a role model for all those that follow him in this life. His kindness and unselfishness will be dearly missed by all that knew him.”

Acting Principal Chief Joe Crittenden said Ketcher “served our people well for many years.”

    “He also served our country proudly and was a Navy veteran,” Crittenden said. “He was a valued elder and Cherokee speaker with invaluable knowledge. I was fortunate to count him as a friend and cannot express how greatly he will be missed.”

    The Cherokee Nation website says Ketcher was an anti-aircraft gunner aboard the USS New Orleans during World War II.

Crittenden and Baker said their thoughts and prayers were with Ketcher’s family and friends.

    Ketcher was first elected the deputy chief by the Cherokee Tribal Council in 1985 to replace Wilma Mankiller, who replaced Ross Swimmer as the principal chief. Swimmer had resigned to become an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of the Interior. Mankiller died in April 2010.

    Ketcher, who had been serving on the tribal council for several years, was elected the deputy chief by acclamation of the tribal council in December 1985.

    During his tenure as the deputy chief, Ketcher stressed the importance of job training, education and self-sufficiency. He also wanted to seek funding to preserve historic Cherokee sites.

    In an article about Ketcher, Mankiller wrote, “John's identity and values are derived in large part from his childhood in a Cherokee family and community.”

John Allen Ketcher was born May 5, 1922, in a log cabin in southeastern Mayes County, she wrote.

    “The birth was attended by a Cherokee midwife, a common practice at the time,” Mankiller wrote. “Since John, his mother and aunts all lived together in the three-room log cabin with his maternal grandparents, he no doubt acquired a keen sense of Cherokee history. While the family members spoke some English, Cherokee was spoken most of the time. Cherokee was John's first language.”

    When Ketcher announced in 1995 that he would not seek re-election, Mankiller called him “one of the finest men I had ever known.”

    The Cherokee Nation recently honored Ketcher for his work in reviving the Cherokee tradition of mechanical loom weaving.

Ketcher and his wife, Colleen, were longtime residents of Tahlequah.

    The family requests that any gifts in his honor be made as donations to scholarships at Sequoyah Schools , Wounded Warriors Fund or to the Cherokee Historical Society in the name of former Deputy Principal Chief John Ketcher.

    “The Cherokee Nation lost a true man of honor and courage today,” Baker said. “I celebrate his life and his legacy that lives on through his family and all his good works.”