Thursday, April 9, 2020
44° Clear

Select Page

Code Talker Joe Vandever Sr. passes


Joe Vandever Sr., one of the last remaining Navajo CodeTalkers, passed away due to health complications in Haystack, New Mexico this morning (Friday) at the age of 96, according to family members.

portrait in front of U.S. flag

Joe Vandever Sr.

“The Navajo people have lost another great warrior who sacrificed more than we’ll ever know to defend our country. On behalf of the Navajo Nation, we offer our prayers and heartfelt condolences to his  children, and many other loved ones,” said President Jonathan Nez.

He was born Feb. 5, 1923 into the Red Running into the Water People Clan, born for Two Who Came to the Water Clan. He was married for 73 years to Bessie D. Vandever, who passed on Sept. 24, 2019.

Survivors include sister Mary Vandever Delgarito; sons Gary,Tracy, Obie, Joe Jr., and Lester Vandever; daughters Beth Nez, Phegie VandeverSlim, Sheila Vandever Nez; 36 grandchildren, 55 great-grandchildren and onegreat-great grandchild.

He was preceded in death by his parents Emma and WalterVandever; wife Bessie D. Vandever; son Anthony Vandever; and grandsonsCharleston, Antonio, and Travis Vandever. Servicesare being arranged with Cope Memorial Chapel in Gallup, NM. Burial will be inSanta Fe National Cemetery.

Vandever enlisted in Santa Fe, NM on Mar. 26, 1943 and wasdischarged as Corporal on Jan. 22, 1946. He served in northern Solomons,Bougainville, Emirau Islands, Guam, Marianas Islands, Okinawa, Ryukyus Islands,Occupation of Japan, and Occupation of China.

About The Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at


Weather & Roads

Window Rock Weather

68% humidity
wind: 8mph SW
H 62 • L 28

More weather »