GREEN LIGHT – Karen Lucas works in her Katlian Street garden this afternoon. Warm sunny weather this spring has been a boon for local gardeners. The Farmers' Almanac is predicting this summer will be warmer than normal, with the hottest period in early July. (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.



Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 5-28-20)

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 10:55 a.m. Thursday.

New cases as of Wednesday: 13

Total statewide – 425

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 46, and the cumulative number of deaths is 10.

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



Welcome to the Sitka Sentinel's web page. In order to make the Sentinel's news more easily available during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken down the paywall to access articles on this page. Just click on an article headline to read the story. 

March 23, 2020



For the duration of the COVID-19 disaster emergency declared by federal, state and local authorities, the Sentinel is taking additional measures to reduce virus exposure to its employees and contractors as well as to the public, while continuing to publish a daily news report for Sitka.

To the extent possible, Sentinel news and sales staff will be working from home. For the protection of our carriers, home delivery of the newspaper will be stopped effective Tuesday, March 24.

The Sentinel will continue to publish on its website sitkasentinel.com. Access to the website will be free to all users. The Sentinel will also produce a print edition Monday through Friday. It will be available to all readers without charge, at locations throughout town.

Initially, these locations are those where the Sentinel's newspaper vending machines are already in place. The coin mechanisms will be disabled or the doors removed to permit easy access. The Sentinel will work with the stores where the paper is usually sold, to designate a place inside or outside the store where the free edition can be made available.  

Home delivery subscriptions are on hold, and after the end of the disaster emergency, subscriptions will be extended at no charge for the number of days that there was no home delivery.

The Sentinel will make its print edition available to the public as early in the day as possible. with all personnel taking precautions to prevent spread of the virus.

The Sentinel is calling upon its customers to observe the COVID-19 emergency precautions already in place, particularly in maintaining a six-foot social distance from others at newspaper distribution sites.

Following is the statement issued by the Sentinel on March 16, stating the Sentinel's emergency procedures, which remain in effect.

The Sentinel office at 112 Barracks Street is closed to the public. We encourage people to use the phone, email or the U.S. Postal Service as much as possible.There is a slot in the front door of the office for ads, news items and payment checks. Emails may be sent to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the phone number is (907) 747-3219.                                                                          

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