ON THE ROAD AGAIN – One of The RIDE buses goes down Katlian Street past the city boat grid this morning. After four months of being shut down because of antivirus precautions, the public transportation service resumed operations today. All routes remain the same except the Blue Line bus route, which now turns around at Whale Park instead of the Gary Paxton Industrial Park. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Mary Martha Christianson Dies in Virginia at Age 84


Mary Martha Christianson

Mary Martha Christianson of Folly Creek Cottage near the hamlet of Daugherty, Va., and formerly of Christoff Island in Sitka, peacefully ended an 11-month battle with cancer at The Hermitage in Onancock, Va., on Oct. 18, 2018.
Until the end, she was cared for by her devoted husband Jim Williams, surrounded by her many friends, her two surviving children, and the well wishes of friends and family across the country.
She was born Mary Martha Kistenmacher, daughter of Charles Frederick and Annie Caroline (Coffman) Kistenmacher, on Feb. 3, 1934, in St. Louis, Mo. She graduated from Clayton High School, Oberlin College (receiving a bachelor of arts degree in comparative religions), and underwent graduate studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Mary, known to many of her friends as Mimi (and to her grandchildren as Meems), led a full, active and socially engaged life. Her many homes included Storrs, Connecticut; Seattle, Washington; Steeleville, Missouri; Poughkeepsie, New York; New Britain, Conn.; Saratoga, N.Y.; Chinnor, England; Amherst, Va.; Lynchburg, Va.; Henley, England; Charlottesville, Va.; Richmond, Va.; Sitka; and Daugherty, in the town of Accomac, VA.
Her travels took Mimi and her children, her friends, and her partners to all continents but Antarctica, and more than 30 nations of the world.
    Mary Martha worked as a Girl Scouts leader, a social worker, a guardian ad litum, and a therapist expert at pulling people out of family traumas.
She volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, arts councils on the Eastern Shore and in Southeast Alaska, and served to start up or strengthen Unitarian Universalist congregations in both places as well.
Music was a great love of her life, which she acted upon through support for the renowned Sitka Summer Music Festival, elements of which she proudly brought to Onancock when she moved back to Virginia.
    Mimi loved adventure. She worked as a camp counselor in the Rocky Mountains as a teenager, camped her way across the United States several times, and spent a summer traveling around Europe with her family in a converted World War II ambulance, “The Owl.” She sailed the West Coast from Alaska to South America, and out to the Galapagos, with her husband of 18 years, Warren C. Christianson, on his Tantalus, as well as the Chesapeake with her later husband Jim on his mighty ketch “Lobo.” She skied (and broke limbs doing so).
Throughout her life, Mary Martha was a close friend, supporter and muse to artists. Her homes always had their walls filled with works by painter friends; her gatherings for poets, novelists, journalists and musicians have grown legendary over the years. She helped found KCAW Raven Radio, on whose board she served for years. She was a key member of International Human Learning Relationships Network for 30 plus years, organizing their spirited annual getaways around the globe and editing their newsletters.
Mary always had beloved pets by her side, including her 18-year-old cat Melinda right up to her final month.
She supported her children, Paul, David and Fern, whole-heartedly her entire life, and was devastated by the passing of David, a theater professional who predeceased her in 2002. She also “adopted” other children wherever she went, from a boarding student in Sitka, Julie Petro Lowndes, who stayed her close friend and almost-daughter for nearly 40 years, to younger people wherever she lived or traveled.
As a grandmother, Meems would drive long hours to spend holidays, or vacation at the beach. She was always fun to be around, but she was also never a “coddler”; when she played you in Hearts, Gin Rummy, Parchisi or Chinese Checkers, she always played to win. And she couldn’t abide those long games like Monopoly or Risk that would end family discussions. As a girl, she’d say a night at home involved singing around a player piano, charades, and other community-strengthening endeavors.
    Mary Martha moved from Alaska to the Eastern Shore of Virginia in 1997 after several trips along the East Coast searching out a new coastal home. Settled into the peninsula home surrounded by Nature Conservancy lands and Folly Creek’s calming waters, she built a new life filled with work aiding area non-profits, doing social work as a consultant, and helping to start and run the Accomack Interfaith Crisis Council.
She made myriad friends, through regular bridge-playing events, membership in one of the liveliest book groups ever to gather, and through her marriage to Jim, a former mayor of Onancock, noted sailor, and the center of many key social groups.
Mary Martha Kistenmacher Christianson is survived by her loving husband of many years, James Williams; her sisters Nancy Kennaugh of Englewood, Fla., and Jane Hennerich of Manchester, Mo.; children Paul Smart of Albany, N.Y., and Anne Fern Smart of Lakeville, Conn.; grandchildren Sam Weisman of Washington, D.C., Julian Weisman of Boston, Mass.; and Milo Smart of Albany, N.Y.; plus various nieces and nephews and entire communities of friends.
Her son David Henry Smart and her brother Charles F. Kistenmacher Jr. predeceased her.
A memorial service and casting of ashes onto Folly Creek will take place Nov. 24 at Folly Creek Cottage in Daugherty, with ceremonial drumming and cello/bass musical accompaniment. A separate service for farther-afield friends is being planned at Oberlin College in  the spring of 2019.
    In lieu of flowers, donations would be appreciated to the Accomack Interfaith Crisis Council (AICC), P.O. Box 738, Onley, VA 23418-0738.



Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-13-20)

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 10:30 a.m. Monday.

New cases as of Sunday: 60

Total statewide – 1,539

Total (cumulative) deaths – 17

Active cases in Sitka – 4 (2 resident; 2 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 14 (11 resident; 3 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 87.

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. 




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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