Remembering Terry Johnson

Bearded man holding halibut fishing pole in the Kachemak Bay, Alaska. Snow covered mountains in background.

Alaska Sea Grant is saddened to hear of the passing of our friend and colleague, Terry Johnson.

Terry joined us in 1991 as the Marine Advisory Program agent for Bristol Bay, after many years as a fisherman and freelance writer. In 1999, he became the southern Kenai peninsula MAP agent, and later served as our recreation and tourism specialist based in Anchorage. When he retired from UAF in 2017, Terry was honored as professor emeritus.

Terry loved the ocean, boating, and writing. Alaskans across the state benefited from his knowledge and expertise. Over his 26 years with Alaska Sea Grant, he contributed 35 publications, many of which are still offered through our online bookstore and are in wide circulation around the state. He wrote the technical Boatkeeper series, edited the first Fishermen’s Direct Marketing Manual, published the Charter Log newsletter, developed responsible wildlife viewing guides, promoted clean harbors and created boating guides to Prince William Sound, Kachemak Bay and crossing the Gulf of Alaska.

Terry led the program’s early work on climate change adaptation. He drew on his broad experience with Alaska’s maritime environment, coastal industries, and communities to serve Alaska’s marine extension needs. Terry was most recently writing a book on natural history and research related to sea lions in Alaska.

Sailboat anchored in remote Southeast Alaska bay. Spruce treed mountain in background.

Terry always owned and operated at least one boat. During the course of his years at Alaska Sea Grant, he ran a Bristol Bay setnet operation and operated an ecotourism business transporting visitors to Round Island. At his happiest, Terry was far from the office, in a quiet bay, often by himself or with family and friends.

Terry did his job with integrity. He did not shy away from presenting the contrarian side of a discussion; he encouraged us to view all sides of a problem to find solutions to meet the needs of Alaskans. He mentored colleagues to ensure that all people are served, and helped them understand when to be the expert and when to find an expert.

Terry’s legacy continues in the extraordinary personal and professional values that he brought to our program, in the knowledge he shared with Alaskans, in his publications, and in his instruction “no stakeholder, no client goes away unserved.”

Terry leaves behind his wife, Yelena Marycheva, and his son, Sasha Johnson.