STAYING CLOSE – Jeanette Warner, right, and her daughter Elizabeth visit with their good friend Eunavae Ballou Tuesday at the Pioneers Home. Staff members of the state-run assisted living facility have provided chairs outside for visitors to sit on while speaking over cell phones to residents inside the building in order to facilitate visits while lessening the possibility of spreading COVID-19, (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

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 11-27-20)

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 12:15 p.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 724

Total statewide – 29,554

Total (cumulative) deaths – 118

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 678

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

The City of Sitka posted the following update on COVID-19 cases in Sitka as of 5 p.m. Thursday.

Active cases in Sitka – 39

Hospitalizations in Sitka – 3

Cumulative Sitka cases – 188 (167 resident; 21 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 149 cumulative

The local case data are from the City of Sitka website.




November 2000

Photo caption: Robin Bergey and her baby, Kate, and Holly Samuelson join much of Sitka and the rest of America this morning in shopping for day-after-Thanksgiving Day sales. Holiday decorations are up around town, and shopping bargains are being offered.

November 1970

Telephone communications in Southeast Alaska were considerably advanced this month by the inauguration of a new microwave system between Juneau (Lena Point) and Sitka.Completed July 17, 1970, by RCA Alaska Communications, the system will become a major segment of the long lines of telecommunications operations in Alaska.