BOX OF TREASURES – Haida artist Holly Churchill, of Ketchikan, shows Sitka High School senior Myles Magie a weaving technique on a cedar bark basket Wednesday in the Sitka High art room. Churchill finished a three-week residency today sponsored by the Sitka School District and Sealaska Heritage Institute's Sharing Our Box of Treasures" program. Her residency included work in the high school's new dual-credit program with UAS, the Northwest Coast Arts class, and sessions with Blatchley Middle School and the Sitka Native Education Program Culture Class. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Ralph ‘Ken’ Ash Dies 30-Year Sitkan was 95

Ralph ‘‘Ken’’ Ash

Ralph ‘‘Ken’’ Ash, age 95, died peacefully in his home in Sitka, April 28.

Ken was born in Briar Creek, Pennsylvania, where he worked with his father in the family-owned grist mill. 

After high school, during the onset of World War II, he joined the U.S. Air Force and became a fighter pilot. His 30-year career had him flying dozens of aircraft, from P-47s and P-51s in WWII to F-4s in Vietnam.

After retiring, he moved to Sitka and began another 30-year career as a commercial hand troller. Ken was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Sitka Flotilla for 30 years and received numerous awards for his dedication.

He was also a member of the Sitka Rotary Club as well as the Elks Lodge.

Ken is survived by five children: Diana Ash Hamilton of La Jara, Colorado; Larry Ash of Colorado Springs, Colorado; Pamela Ash of Sitka; Steve Ash (Peggy Reeve) of Maui, Hawaii; and Susan McCarty of Fort Collins, Colorado.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 50 years, Wilma (Warther) Ash of Sitka, his oldest daughter, Barbara Tatum Lessard of Sitka, and his great-granddaughter, Renee Phelps of Alamosa, Colorado.

He leaves behind eight grandchildren: Jennifer Grant of Sitka; Clay Hamilton of La Jara, Colorado; Leah Phelps of Alamosa; Erica Ash of Dallas, Texas; Lara Ash of Colorado Springs; Jasson Dellacroce of Phoenix, Arizona; Tristan Twohig of Portland, Oregon; and Blake McCarty of Fort Collins, Colorado.

Ken is also survived by seven great-grandchildren: Camryn Grant, Carson Grant and Evan Grant of Sitka; Bennett Hamilton and Scarlett Hamilton of La Jara; Hannah Dellacroce of Berkeley, California; and Connor McCarty of Fort Collins.

“The family would like to extend their sincere gratitude to the caregivers and friends who made it possible for Ken to spend his last days in his own home,” they wrote.

Services will be held in Sitka at a time and place to be determined.


In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Coast Guard Auxiliary Sitka Flotilla.

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