Henry Donald Gatewood II Obituary

Henry, Hank, Buddy, Bud, Bop passed away peacefully on July 29, 2022, after many years of living with dementia. Henry Donald Gatewood II was born in Ft. Defiance, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation, March 25, 1929; he is a member of the Totsohnii clan (Big Water People). Typical of most Navajos of his generation, he lived in a traditional hogan, herded sheep, chopped wood, and grew up in the culture of his people. Orphaned at the age of nine, he attended the Ganado Mission boarding school until high school, where he was not allowed to speak his native language. After graduating, he attended Arizona State College in Flagstaff, Arizona. His education was interrupted by the Korean War when he enlisted in the Army’s Parachute Division. Upon discharge, he was employed by the General Services Administration in Gallup, New Mexico, and married his wife of 66 years, Mary Lee Paul, who was a non-Indian teacher in Window Rock, Arizona. After the birth of their first daughter, Shannon, they both returned to the Flagstaff campus where he completed work for his BS and MA in Education. returned to the Tuba City, Arizona, reservation to teach junior high school math and coach basketball; her family became complete with the birth of her second daughter Brooke. In 1960 he became manager of the new million dollar community center in Tuba City. He became very active in the community working closely with schools, churches, scouts, helping found the local Lion’s Club, Sportsman’s Club and the Youth Baseball Association. He helped bring the first television to the western part of the reservation. During this time, he served on numerous boards, including Navajo Forest Products and The Navajo Times. A desire to return to school led him to Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, where he was accepted into the education specialist program in 1967. After completing his coursework, he worked as a consultant for the Arizona State Department of Public Instruction. In July 1969, Henry became the superintendent of the Chinle Public School District on the Navajo Reservation, geographically the largest school district in the United States. He was the first Navajo Indian and the first Indian from any tribe in Arizona to hold such a high position in the Arizona public school system. Due to a car accident in which he broke his neck, the family moved to Chandler, Arizona. Recovering from his neck injury, he learned to carve Kachina dolls. Still a teacher, Henry began giving Kachina carving lessons at Chandler’s Mini Mall. He has won numerous awards for his sculpture. Mary Lee and Henry combined their stores and moved to Chandler’s town center plaza and opened The Trading Post. After closing The Trading Post in 1996, he continued to teach at home and be active; he served as president of the Ganado Mission Association for several years. Collector of objects, his “workshop” was considered the family hardware store. For 40 years, he was able to host his family in the “glass house” on the mountain near Window Rock, Arizona, for the annual Fourth of July meeting. He would start planning 6 months before and when the grandkids were small he would load them all up and off they went. Unfortunately during Covid there was no meeting on the mountain for two years. On December 9, 2018, Henry and Mary Lee said goodbye to their Dublin Street home in Chandler and entered Christina’s Assisted Living, a group home in Gilbert, Arizona, where they were very well taken care of by Bobby. and Claudia. He is predeceased by his father, George W. Gatewood, his mother, Eleanor Mitchell Gatewood, and his wife Mary Lee Paul Gatewood. He is survived by his brother David Gatewood, his sister-in-law Marilyn Dalton, his daughter Shannon Gatewood-Smith (Grady) and Brooke Gatewood (Joe), several nieces and nephews. For his grandchildren who called him “Bop”, he was the best. Owen St. Clair, Travis Irwin (Erica), Brent Irwin, Nathan Smith (Emily), Christina Smith, Corey Palmer (Callie), Brandon Palmer, William “Bill” Irwin, Sheryl Shipp (Dennis), and Kevin Irwin. 14 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren. The service will take place on Saturday, September 17, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 739 W. Erie St., Chandler AZ 85225. Memorial donations may be made to: Navajo Nation Diné Scholarship Annual Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship and Financial Assistance PO Box 1870 Window Rock, AZ 86515 Or a charity of your choice.

Posted on September 02, 2022

Posted in The Arizona Republic

service information


Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 739 W. Erie St., Chandler AZ 85225

September 17, 2022 at 10:00 AM