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)

Ruth I. Nelson

Ruth I. Nelson

Ruth I. Nelson passed away in her sleep of natural causes at her home in Juneau and ascended into heaven, on  March 15. She was 84.
Ruth (Ka’ukdegoon) was born in Sitka in 1933 to Walter Haskel Gray (La’goon) and Mary Margaret Gray (X’aal geis’). She was Eagle Kaagwaataan of the Big Box House and the second youngest of seven siblings, all of whom met her at the pearly gates. She lived her early life during a very tumultuous time for Alaska Native children. She often referred to herself as “a Tlingit in transition.”
Ruth graduated from Sitka High School and Sheldon Jackson College where she excelled in basketball. She loved sports and played softball in the early years of her marriage.
Ruth met Jim Nelson, a surveyor for the U.S. Bureau of Public Roads, in Sitka at the Bayview Cafe, where she was working as a waitress. The story goes that she repeatedly turned Jim down for a date, but he was persistent, and they married on a snowy day in 1957.
Jim never returned to the Lower 48. The two stayed in Southeast Alaska, settling in Juneau where they have lived for the last 59 years, raising their family, watching them grow and welcoming grandchildren.
Ruth loved her family and children. She was never very far from them and stayed home to raise them.
While originally Russian Orthodox, Ruth converted to Catholicism to be with her husband in church, and became very devout.  She was a long-time member of Juneau’s Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Valley’s St. Paul’s Catholic Church. She was an active member of the Charismatic Prayer group.
For 18 years Ruth, with her husband Jim, coached newly engaged couples on marriage based upon the teachings of the Church. For eight years they counseled people who wished to become Catholics.
In 1963 Ruth and her husband, with some business partners, purchased a jewelry store on Seward Street called The Nugget Shop. She worked there part-time until they closed it 10 years later.
Ruth loved fishing and gathering the Southeast Alaskan foods that are abundant around Juneau. She was an avid gardener for many years and using her green thumb she raised vegetables in the back yard of her Mendenhall Valley home near the glacier.
Ruth enjoyed sewing, baking, knitting, quilting and ceramics. She made clothes for the kids, baked homemade bread weekly, and for holidays made Russian Easter bread and Christmas stollen. She often made unleavened bread for use at Eucharist and her rhubarb pie won high dollars at church fundraisers. Her Madonna and Child figurines were a testament to her love for Mary and Jesus.
Ruth was preceded in death by her siblings, Evelyn Johns, Al Gray Sr., Herbie Gray, Nick Gray and infant Ruth Gray.
Ruth is survived by her husband of 61 years Jim Nelson; her niece Shirley Krkovich of Yakutat; her children Margaret Nelson of Anchorage, Lucy Nelson of Juneau, Jim Nelson of Winston-Salem, N.C., and Ruth Wright of Juneau; and six grandchildren Angela Wright, Holly Nelson, Nicolas Wright, Parker Nelson, Taryn Wright and Morgan Wright. Numerous nieces and nephews – and six grandpuppies – also survive.
A funeral mass and celebration of life are to be at noon Tuesday, March 27, at St. Paul’s Church followed by a potluck reception. All are welcome to celebrate her life and her entrance into heaven. Ruth will be interred at The Natural Shrine of St. Therese 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 28.
The family requests donations in Ruth’s honor to the Alaska Arthritis Foundation Camp ArCTIC, which provides camps for children with arthritis, at https://www.arthritis.org/alaska.



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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