OPEN AIR CONCERT – From left, musicians Ross Venneberg, Brian Neal, Wade Demmert and Roger Schmidt perform an outdoor brass concert for residents of the Pioneers Home Monday. The professional musicians, who are hunkered down in Sitka, are regulars at the annual Holiday Brass Concert. The Pioneers Home has been closed to visitors during the pandemic. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Former Sitka Teacher Barbara Lessard Dies

Barbara Lessard

Barbara Ash (Tatum) Lessard passed away peacefully on October 6 from complications following hip surgery and Alzheimer’s disease.  She was surrounded by family at her sister’s home in La Jara, Colorado.  She would have turned 70 on October 8.
    Barbara had a rich, life beginning with her birth on October 8, 1948, in Anchorage, to Ken and Wilma Ash. The oldest of six siblings in an Air Force family, Barbara lived in many different states, as well as in Canada and the Philippines. 
    After graduating from the University of Northern Colorado in 1970, she was offered teaching jobs in both Wyoming and Sitka.  Inspired by her mother, who had come to teach at Sheldon Jackson in 1943, she adventurously chose Sitka. Barbara had planned to stay for only a couple of years, but she fell in love with the community, making it her permanent home.
    In July 1971, Barbara married fellow teacher, Jon Tatum.  They welcomed their only child, daughter Jennifer, in 1975. Both continued teaching into retirement; they divorced in 1982. Barbara was always so proud of her daughter, and was dedicated to navigating the world of single parenting. Barbara and Jennifer enjoyed many mother-daughter adventures, including road trips through Canada and much of the U.S. They even purchased a boat, and explored the islands near Sitka!
In April 1993, Barbara started a new chapter of her life when she married Ron Lessard. They were joined by Ron’s 14-year-old daughter, Tera, who became an important person to Barbara.
In 1997, Barbara retired from teaching to open Finn Alley Bed & Breakfast with Ron. Their home was a beautiful setting with gardens admired by thousands walking down Lincoln Street. Barbara took great pride in her gardens.
Aside from their B&B, Ron and Barb also made many memories together traveling in Mexico, Hawaii, Europe, and taking RV trips though the United States. They loved this time together.
    Without doubt, Barbara’s greatest joy was becoming a grandmother.  When Jennifer, following in her mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps, started teaching fulltime, Barbara happily agreed to care for her grandchildren. There were also many sleep-overs, boat rides, camping trips to the family float house, and vacations that revolved around her grandchildren.  Together they would bake and garden, create art projects, read stories, build blanket forts, and take walks to the playground, beach, and Totem Park.
After her family, Barbara’s greatest joy in life was teaching—especially teaching children how to read. She could hardly go anywhere in town without running into a former student. Her dedication to teaching instilled a love of reading and learning in so many.  She had a quiet way of making people feel special and loved.
Barbara will be lovingly remembered and missed by many. “We will think of her with a smile when we see a purple iris, a bright blue Himalayan poppy, a great blue heron, or a playful dragonfly,” family said.
She was preceded in death by her husband Ron; mother, Wilma Warther Ash; brother-in-law Tom Hamilton; and great-niece Renee Phelps.
Barbara is survived by her father, Ken Ash, daughter Jennifer and son-in-law Bill Grant; grandchildren, Camryn, Carson, and Evan Grant;  and sister Pamela Ash, all of Sitka; sisters Diana Hamilton and Susan Manz, and brother Larry Ash of Colorado, and brother Steve Ash and sister-in-law Peggy Reeve of Hawaii; stepdaughter Tera Lessard and her husband Roger, of Washington; nephews Jasson Dellacroce,  of Arizona, Clayton Hamilton (Shannon), Blake McCarty (Becca) of Colorado, and Tristan Twohig of Oregon; nieces Erica Ash of Texas, Leah Phelps and Lara Ash of Colorado; great-nieces Hannah Dellacroce of California, and Bennett Hamilton of Colorado; and great-nephew Connor McCarty of Colorado.
    A memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. Dec. 16, at Sweetland Hall on the Fine Arts Campus.  Former students, colleagues, neighbors, and friends are invited to come and celebrate her life.
    In lieu of flowers, the family appreciates a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association or Brave Heart Volunteers of Sitka.



Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-7-20)

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 11:15 p.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Sunday: 19

Total statewide – 1,184

Total (cumulative) deaths – 17

Active cases in Sitka – 8 (3 resident; 5 non-resident)

Recovered cases in Sitka – 12 (10 resident; 2 non-resident)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 78.

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 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.                                                                          

Login Form

Most recent Sentinels — PDF edition


July 1, 2020

July 2, 2020

July 6, 2020

July 7, 2020

July 8, 2020