Alaska Star logo
Alaska Job Net
share on facebook
Alaska Star on Facebook

Story Last modified at 8:51 p.m. on Wednesday, December 22, 2010

David Joseph Tanner

July 18, 1931-Dec. 15, 2010


David Joseph Tanner

Longtime Alaska resident David Joseph "Dajo" Tanner, 78, passed away peacefully of natural causes surrounded by loved ones at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage.

David was born the sixth of eight children to Allen Oscar and Bessie Bell Tanner on July 18, 1932, in Alhambra, Calif. He spent his early years living in and around southern California and eastern Oklahoma.

David "Dajo" was very proud of his Native American heritage and as a youth attended numerous powwows and other tribal events with his family. He remained a lifelong member of the Cherokee Nation of Tahlequah, Okla.

At a young age, David was introduced to the guitar and country music by his older brother, Bill, and quickly discovered he had a natural ability. Music became his life's work and passion, eventually rewarding with an induction into the Western Swing Society Hall of Fame.

In the spring of 1949 he met the first love of his life, Jonnie Frances Philpott in Carlsbad, N.M. They were married on July 2, 1949, in Farmington, N.M. They raised nine children and remained married for 36 years until Jonnie's death in 1987.

As a young man David held many positions in numerous jobs, mostly in the construction field. He eventually decided to dedicate his life to his music. David was nomadic by nature and traveled the southwest United States settling where the work was for a time then moving on to different surroundings. It was this nomadic spirit that brought him to Alaska. In the summer of 1967 he and his family arrived in Eagle River. They lived in and around Anchorage and the Mat-Su until his death.

His other interests included fishing, boating, camping, barbecues, creating Native American art and spending time with family and friends. The coffee pot was always on, and all were welcome. David had a large, loving heart and always enjoyed the company of others. After the death of his wife Jonnie, he was once again blessed when he met Buradine Thiesing who remained by his side for 20 years until his death.

David will be remembered with respect and admiration. Many will miss his immense talent, quick wit and easygoing nature.

He is survived by his life companion, Burandine Thiesing; sons David Jr, John, Ethan, Cody and Matt; daughters, Pahleah, Shannah and Shelley; brother Douglas; sisters, Waunehmah Shanklin and Wanda Haughn; 22 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Allen and Bessie; wife, Jonnie; brothers Allan and William; sisters, Georgia, Alberta and Pauline; and daughter Debra Lynne Marshall.

Funeral services were held Wednesday, Dec. 22, at the Crossing at Birchwood. A celebration of life followed at the American Legion Post 33 in Peters Creek.

This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, December 22, 2010.