EXPECT DELAYS – Lines of traffic move slowly down Sawmill Creek Road today as a repaving project progresses near the Indian River bridge. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

James (Jim) Orrin Thomas Jr.

James (Jim) Orrin Thomas Jr.


On December 9, 2017, James (Jim) Orrin Thomas Jr. lost his long battle with renal cancer. He passed peacefully, with his two youngest daughters by his side in Cody, Wyoming. He was 73. 

 Jim was born in McMinnville, Oregon, to Vida (Smith) and James O. Thomas Sr. —the second of five children – on May 17, 1944. He was raised in the Willamina and Rosenberg, Oregon, areas. He attended school in Willamina and graduated from Willamina Union High School in 1963.

After graduation, Jim worked as a truck driver throughout the coast and Willamette Valley of Oregon. In 1965, he married his first wife, Joann, and they had twin daughters, Carla and Marlene. 

 Jim soon drove trucks in Southeast Alaska. He moved to Wrangell in 1974 and worked at logging camps. In 1977 he re-settled in Sitka, married Lillian in 1979, and had daughters Katie, Kathy, and Mary.

In Sitka, Jim drove for S&S General Contractors, McGraw Construction and Dawson Construction, and had many union jobs throughout Alaska, most notably helping build the ice roads on the North Slope.

He was a long-standing member of Teamsters 959.

In 2001, Jim was diagnosed with colon cancer. He traveled to Portland, Oregon, for surgery as well as treatment and was soon cleared of his cancer.

Later, Jim rekindled his relationship with his high school sweetheart, Janice. The two lived in Alaska for a few years, then moved to Oregon and traveled around the lower 48. They eventually settled in Lovell, Wyoming, after he was diagnosed with cancer again. He spent the rest of his time there. 

 Jim Thomas was a true Alaskan, enjoying activities such as fishing, clam digging, and hunting. He also attended his girls’ swim meets and softball games. His girls cherish many memories of their dad, including singing carols from their Christmas carol book each Christmas. They often think of how Jim always included them in their work life by showing them where or what he was working on or by taking them with him in the big trucks. When one of them “wanted to ride with Dad” they would pack a lunch and sit on the sidewalk waiting for him to drive by and pick them up. Jim dedicated himself to his family, especially his girls and grandchildren.

Jim’s love of animals showed through with the family pets, the last ones being Luke and Kiara. He would often take them out for walks on trails and took them along on the many adventures he had traveling throughout the lower 48.

He was preceded in death by his parents James and Vida Thomas and beloved dogs, Luke and Kiara.

He is survived by his wife, Janice Thomas, of Lovell, Wyoming; daughters Katie and Kathy Thomas of Sitka, Mary Thomas of Lovell, Wyoming, and Carla and Marlene of Oregon; brothers Gene Jones, Frank Thomas of Gates, Oregon, and David Thomas of Alaska; and sister MariLu (Don) Ely of Washington.

He is also survived by grandchildren Troy, Drew, Kyler, and Kristina Petrey of Peoria, Illinois; Devin and Jade Kubik and Bryson Eddy of Sitka; and many more grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews.


Jim’s final resting place will be with his two dogs near his parents’ burial place in Willamina, Oregon. A memorial service will be at 11 a.m.  Saturday, March 10, with Don Shelton of Willamina Christian Church officiating.

August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:


On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff


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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 8-7-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 11:20 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 53

Total statewide – 3,536

Total (cumulative) deaths – 25

Active cases in Sitka – 20 (14 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 141.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 




August 2000

High prices for chum salmon, low pink returns, and record numbers of fish in Deep Inlet have turned the Sitka fishing grounds into Route 66 this summer. “Overall it’s been a fantastic season so far,” said Steve Reifenstuhl, operations manager for the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association.

August 1970

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Ireney, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, will head a gathering of Orthodox prelates from North American and abroad in ceremonies canonizing the first American Orthodox saints, Father Herman of Alaska. A group of Sitkans will fly to Kodiak for the event.