Walter Atene, of Oljato, passed away on April 12, 2009 in Phoenix, AZ. He was 62 years old. Atene was born on November 2, 1946, in Navajo Mountain, UT.
He was interred at the family cemetery in Oljato on April 16. After the graveside services, a memorial service was held at Monument Valley High School to honor his years of service to the community and beyond.
Navajo Nation Vice President Ben Shelly attended the services, in addition to a host of other officials, including San Juan School District officials, San Juan County Commissioner Kenneth Maryboy, and Navajo Nation Councilman Mark Maryboy.
Mark Maryboy described Atene as a distinguished person who served his people and many parents and students throughout the area. Atene served several times on the San Juan School Board, including as Board Vice President.
During his tenure on the Navajo Nation Council, he was often asked to make motions on delicate items because his motions would always pass.
Additional acknowledgements were received from Navajo Nation Supreme Chief Justice Herb Yazzie, Senator Bob Bennett and Senator Orrin Hatch.
School Board president Nelson Yellowman, who followed Atene on the school board, said, “I can never say enough about Walter Atene. He’s done so much for mankind that no one can fill his Big Shoes. All we can do is continue the kind of work he wanted done for everyone. Your prayers and condolences for the family is greatly appreciated. We will miss his leadership.”
Atene was actively involved in getting Monument Valley High School established. He favored diversity in the schools to provide the opportunity for students to hear and see different views and have learning opportunities from all areas.
He also was involved in the development of the “Language Development and Curriculum Plan” to include Navajo Culture and Language in the district schools.
Recently, Atene was instrumental in the release of school district land to construct a new health clinic facility and emergency services center at Monument Valley.