William Harold Einman was a proud Yurok Tribal member. He was born on April 21, 1975 in Eureka, CA to Leona and Mike Einman. In 1979 the family moved to South Bend, Washington, where William began his academic career, attending pre-school through 12 th grade. He graduated high school in 1993. Will then attended Gray’s Harbor Community College in Aberdeen, Wa. and South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia, Wa.

While growing up in South Bend, Will made a lot of friends. Most of them becoming life-long friends whom he made many fond memories and share many laughs. In his final days, many traveled to see him. They laughed and reminisced about the old days. Will fondly recalled his formative years in South Bend and the many great memories he shared with his sister (Elizabeth), and many of his closest friends. He wished to make a special note of Cara (Seaton) Olsen, Matt Woodard, Lori (Harmer) Snodgrass, Andrea (Klein) Austad, Kara (Kotek) Premo and Nick Korpi as being significant parts of the “old days.”

Throughout Will‘s childhood, many trips were made to California. Here, he enjoyed spending time with his family and learning the culture of his people. Will decided to move to California and attend Humboldt State University. While attending HSU, he resided with his “Granny”, Jessie Van Pelt. She was instrumental in getting him started in learning the Yurok language. William, A’awok Jessie and A’awok Aileen Figueroa devoted many years to learning, revitalizing and teaching the Yurok language and were instrumental in the forming of the Yurok Elder Wisdom Preservation Project.

In 2000, William received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies: Elementary Education with a Minor in American Indian Education. In 2002, he received his Teaching Credential in Multiple Subjects, in 2003, he received a second Bachelor of Arts in Native American Studies and in 2010 he received his Credential in Administrative Services.

Will was hired as a first grade teacher at Margaret Keating School in Klamath where he was trained as a Reading Recovery Teacher and worked assisting children struggling in learning to read. His caring compassionate nature made him a natural teacher. He enriched the lives of his students and his colleagues by the example he set by always giving his best. Teaching is not for the faint hearted as William’s students went home with him every night in his thoughts as he tried to figure out how to reach them and give them the best educational experience possible so they could be successful. The successes in school spilled over into their lives at home as the lessons he taught were life lessons, to never give up and to give it your all. Will wanted his first teaching experience to be with Yurok students as his heart was with his people as he loved the culture and the language. His grandmother taught him the language, and in his words he was not to waste his knowledge if she was going to teach him. He didn’t disappoint her as he taught a community language class and incorporated it into his daily plans in his 1 st grade classroom. His heart was with his community and with that in mind, he made his decision to become an administrator where he could reach all students in Del Norte County. He then served as Principal of Margaret Keating School, Bess Maxwell School, and, for the last two years, as Assistant Principal of Crescent Elk Middle School. During his tenure he always put students first and worked tirelessly to get the services students needed to succeed. He took over the Title 9 program for native students where he was able to recognize students for their academic achievements and help them with scholarships so they could achieve their dreams. The politics of teaching would overwhelm him, but he never gave up and he always made things work to benefit the students as they were the reason and the only reason to make it work. Will’s pure happiness with teaching was when students would reach out to him and tell him of all their achievements and how much he impacted their lives. He always taught his students to care about everything you do, listen, always take the time to listen and always be kind to everybody. His kindness, even temperament, and award winning smile made him a joy to work with and he will be remembered fondly by students, parents, and his colleagues. A tribute to William by students, friends, family and colleagues was shown by everyone wearing purple for one whole day in solidarity for strength.

William leaves behind 2 wonderful children, Leona January and his son Killian Smiley. He loved his children so much and was so proud of them and all of their accomplishments. Each time he spoke of them his feelings were witnessed upon his face in that huge smile of his. 2010 was a special year for him. He watched his son graduate from Del Norte High School as well as brought home his new baby girl. William often said his greatest gift was fatherhood and like with most everything else, he was amazing at it. He lived for those teachable moments when he could share with his children his knowledge and life lessons. William had great appreciation for his own extended group of “Grandmas, Aunties and Uncles” of close family friends throughout his childhood and ensured the kids had the same through some very special people in his life.

He believed in the importance of connecting Leona to his Native community from infancy and he proudly and gratefully enrolled her as “the first baby at Yurok Head Start.”  Her first year of public school in the Kindergarten class at Joe Hamilton Elementary was an exciting time for Will to be a parent in the system he spent his career working in.  He joyfully saw Leona off on her first school bus ride and was delighted when she was named “Student of the Year” of her class as the 2016 school year came to a close. His commitment to learning was demonstrated nightly as he read Leona children’s books from his sizable collection at bedtime.  He also shared his love of song and music with his kids. He taught Leona his favorite songs like “You are My Sunshine” and introduced her to some of his favorite artists. He took pleasure in her regular request of Cher’s Greatest Hits on every road trip to Eureka, Washington or wherever they were heading. Will liked to swap stories with Killian about playing in the high school band, as well as encouraged and supported him while following his dreams to be a musician. Will always encouraged and supported any and all interests of either of the kids, band, music, soccer, dance, or basketball.

William had a wide range of personal interests that brought him happiness.  Learning about, reminiscing over or sharing stories of family history was a primary passion.  He was an enthusiast of vintage cars and when traveling would make roadside stops to look at those that caught his eye with “For Sale” signs.  Motorcycle adventures around the rugged north coast brought him satisfaction and tranquility.  William had a penchant for Broadway musicals and show tunes, his favorite was Wicked.  Will found a creative outlet as a member of the North Coast Chorale with whom he performed in concert.  He was always up for a gathering of family and friends, especially when they were up for a competitive round of board or card games..

A man with a pure heart and humble spirit, Will was our beloved brother and friend. He cherished his relationships with the Natural World and spiritual elements and lived in balance and harmony with the Earth. Will had a deep understanding of the human journey and lived what it means to be a good ancestor. A person with all of these characteristics, who also spoke the Yurok language, is rare. Perhaps if we are lucky, a person like this may come along once in our lifetime. Will was such a person. For these reasons, he was chosen as the Soo-nay (Medicine Man) for the Wo neek way-lagah (Jump Dance) ceremony at Chapekw. He was truly a gift from the Creators. In fulfilling his great-grandmother’s (Josie Marks from Chapekw) wishes, Will embodied the missing link that revitalized this sacred ceremony. He was our leader, the Soo-nay, and in his humble nature, Will wanted it to be known that he worked as part of a team that breathed life into a precious ceremony that had been idle for over 100 years. As his life waned, he wished to extend a deep and sincere love and appreciation to his spiritual family; those who trained with him and prepared alongside him spiritually for the ceremony; those who assisted his mother in the kitchen; and those who brought their prayers and positive energies. For those of us in his spiritual family, Will impacted us tremendously. He changed our spirits, and because of this, we know that we will make greater contributions to the world. He taught us to seek strength within ourselves and that we don’t have to look to others to put our lives in balance. Will helped us understand that life’s answers lay within our culture and ceremonies and can also be found within the power of the human spirit. Will was our treasure and he will be deeply missed.

William was preceded in death by his grandmother Jessie Van Pelt, his grandparents Harold and Eileen Einman, Step-father Ed Curtis, and numerous beloved aunts, uncles and cousins.

William is survived by his children Leona January and Killian Smiley, his mother Leona Curtis, his father Michael Einman (Sabina), Sister Elizabeth Stamos (Nik), Sister Eileen Tibbits (Kelly), Brother Michael (Jennifer), his loving partner Tim Johnson, his nephews Nick and Logan Stamos, Ryder Tibbits, his nieces Lillian Einman, Hannah and Alison Stenerson as well as aunties, uncles, and numerous cousins.

In lieu of flowers William’s family would like to request that donations be made to: Del Norte Schools - 301 W Washington Blvd - Crescent City, Ca. 95531. RE: Will Einman Scholarship

A Celebration of life will be held Sunday October 2, 2016 at 10 a.m. at Crescent Elk Middle School auditorium, with a potluck to follow in the MPR. William will be laid to rest at a private burial at the family cemetery.

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The obituary above was submitted by William’s family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email news@lostcoastoutpost.com.