Alan Jon Fortney

Alan Jon Fortney

Alan Jon Fortney, writer, teacher and Native American scholar, passed away peacefully on June 21, 2019 at home in Bennington, Vt., with his family at his side.

Alan was born in Nov. 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio to Pastor Albin and Anita (Sodergren) Fortney as the second child of four.

His father Albin served with distinction as a Major Chaplain in the US Army in World War II. His family was relocated by the Army to Schweinfurt, Germany and Vienna, Austria (1947-49). He later served as pastor of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church of Stoughton.

Alan graduated from Stoughton High School in 1957. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1963 with a degree in English. During his time as a student he lived in Copenhagen, Denmark where he learned fluent Danish and explored Germany, France and Spain by folk singing and writing a newspaper column about his travels.

As a journalist, he worked at the City News Bureau of Chicago and then as the editor of the School Edition of the New York Times. He moved to Bennington to work as Director of Publications at Bennington College. He worked as editor for Hemming Motor News and then Vermont Summer Magazine (Bennington Banner) and taught journalism and Native American Philosophy at SVC, writing at CCV, and taught English at MAUHS until his retirement.

Once retired, Alan refocused on his devoted study of Native American history and philosophy. He was known among many local students for his tipi visits to schools. He published the book Go Light: Exploring the Tao of Native America while working tirelessly on multiple novels, a memoir and plays.

Alan is survived by; his wife of 45 years, Jill; daughter, Rachael Fortney (Calif.); son. Kendall Fortney (Vt.); brother Steven (Ruth) (Stoughton) and sister, Anita (Bill) Harms (Muskegon, Mich.); in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews and many friends.

There will be a private memorial service and burial at Bennington in Aug.. Donation in Alan’s name may be made to VNA-Hospice and the Bennington Rescue Squad. Cremation arrangements by E.P. Mahar and Son Funeral Home. For a complete obituary go to