GIVING TIME – Debe Brincefield of the Sitka Salvation Army helps distribute food at the Salvation Army on Sawmill Creek Road this afternoon. More than 50 Sitkans were lined up at noon to receive Thanksgiving baskets that included frozen turkeys and fresh vegetables. Food drives were held recently at all Sitka grocery stores to help stock the pantry. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Neland Jerome Haavig


Neland Jerome Haavig

Neland Jerome Haavig, a longtime resident of Sitka, Walhalla, N.D., and Mesa, Ariz., passed away on March 15 at Narrows Glen Senior Facility in Tacoma, Wash. He was 94.
He was born May 18, 1923, in New Rockford, N.D., Dakota, to Sylvester and Helen (Hanson) Haavig. He graduated in 1941 from Noonan North Dakota High School, where he excelled in athletics and received a football scholarship to Minot State College.
World War II interrupted his studies and he went to Seattle to join the Navy, entering into active service in 1943. He served in the Pacific theater on the cruiser USS Chicago, and in the Atlantic on the aircraft carrier USS Guadalcanal.
After his honorable discharge, he returned to North Dakota to begin his life with his high school sweetheart and wartime bride Joyce L. Helgeson from Columbus, N.D.
In the fall of 1945, Neland enrolled at North Dakota State University in Fargo and graduated in 1950. His first teaching job was in McHenry, N.D. During his tenure there, he attended summer school at the University of North Dakota where he earned a master’s degree. Neland was promoted to superintendent of schools in McHenry and went on to be the superintendent in Noonan, Drake, and Walhalla, N.D.
In March 1964, on the day of the Alaska Good Friday earthquake, Neland accepted the school superintendent position in Sitka. This wonderful opportunity took him, his pregnant wife, seven children, and two vehicles on a camping trip through Canada to the Alaska State Ferry Terminal in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. They boarded the MV Matanuska and docked in Sitka on July 10, 1964.
For the next 15 years Neland was busy as the year round superintendent and as a commercial salmon troller during the summer fishing seasons. (This was true to his Norwegian heritage. His great-great-grandfather was a fisherman on Bomlo Island, Norway.) He retired as superintendent in 1979 and he continued to fish commercially until 1987 when he fully retired.
Neland and Joyce then began the snowbird phase of their life. They summered in Walhalla most of the time and wintered in Venture Out Park and Sunland Village in Mesa. Neland enjoyed entertaining and he was known for his halibut fish and chips.
 After no longer summering in Walhalla, they spent a few summers in Medford, Ore., before moving to Narrows Glen in Tacoma in January 2017.
Neland is survived by his wife, Joyce; and daughters Carole Andrews, Pasco, Wash.; Cynthia Haavig, Portland, N.D.; Leslie Hansen (Richard) University Place, Wash.; Kristi Haavig (Jake Allmaras) Medford, Ore.; Maren Haavig (Mark Neidhold), Juneau.
His sons are Steven Haavig (Paula Scavera) Juneau, and Paul Haavig, Sitka.
Grandchildren are Stephany Andrews, Tate Andrews, Brett Haavig, Erika Haavig, Adam Hansen, and Kristofer Hansen; and great-grandchildren are Ander Call, Averie and Bryce Haavig; and Beckett, Maddox, and Paxton Hansen.
Neland was preceded in death by his parents, his son Neland J. Haavig Jr.; son-in-law Thomas Andrews, and two sisters, Arlene Stevenson and Sallymae Hunter.   
This spring, a celebration of his life is planned, and he will be interred at Sitka National Cemetery.
Neland was dearly loved by his family and friends. The family is grateful to all the professionals at Narrows Glen and Franciscan Hospice Tacoma who provided care, guidance, and support during Neland’s last days.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contribution to a favorite charity in Neland’s name.

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