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)

William McNally Dies; Former Sitkan was 72

William McNally

William Floyd McNally was born Feb. 13, 1947, during a raging snowstorm. His dad, Harold McNally, had to drive his mom, Marguerite, to the small hospital in Yale, Michigan, following behind a snowplow.
He was raised on the family dairy farm in Brown City, Michigan. He went home to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the early morning hours of July 5, 2019.
Bill attended schools in Brown City and later went on to Mott Community College and then Michigan State University, where he graduated with his B.S. degree, He was in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and played on the high school football team. He was also in the band, and the school was so small he was asked to play football and then be in the band during half time. He made the choice of playing football.
After Bill graduated from Michigan State in 1969, he became a conservation officer for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. After eight years, Bill left Michigan and headed for his new job in Alaska working for the National Marine Fisheries Service as a Special Agent and then as the supervisor of the Sitka office. He retired from NMFS in 2002, after 24 years of service.
In 1985, on a blind date, Bill met the love of his life, Mary Jo, who had just moved to Sitka from Minnesota. He always said, ‘‘Thank God for imports!’’ After he retired from NMFS, they opened Fly Away Fly Shop in downtown Sitka. There they never worked harder nor loved what they did more. Countless friendships were made throughout their business-owning years, friendships that are deep and meaningful even today. Bill could teach someone to fly-cast in only hours – he was a great teacher!
After closing the fly shop in 2009, they began their travels. They left in the fall of 2010 for their first winter ‘‘down south.’’ Every year after, they made their way south, visiting friends and family from Washington State to Key West. They loved driving the roads of America after living for 40 years with only 15 miles of road in Sitka.
Bill loved Sitka Young Life and was devoted to making cinnamon rolls for the Friday morning boys’ group. He loved his friends and his church family and was always willing to help them and strangers alike. He had a hearty laugh and was bigger than life itself. He was caring and giving and always concerned about others more than himself.
In 2017, Bill and Mary Jo said their good-byes to Sitka and headed to Post Falls, Idaho, where they established their new home and life. They had many plans to fish the rivers and lakes of Northern Idaho and Western Montana, but illness and poor and failing health never allowed those dreams to come true. He got sick only three weeks after they moved into their new home and he fought a valiant battle for a long 17 months, believing he was going to once again be strong and healthy enough to fulfill those dreams. Sadly, that didn’t happen, and he passed away peacefully at home on July 5 with Mary Jo by his side.
Bill is survived by his wife Mary Jo, his sister and brother-in-law Kathy and Jim Num, and mother-in-law Sue Linder, all of Post Falls, Idaho; ‘‘adopted children’’ Jeff and Jakala Bowling and their two children Jeffrey  and Jackson of Spokane, Washington; Tim and Bree Davis and their two children Morgan and Jacob of Waverly, Georgia; Michele (Stephenson) and Jason Warren and son Aidan of Cary, North Carolina; brother and sister-in-law Charlie and Lori Aldean of Woodbury, Minnesota; and nieces and nephews Jacob and Sarah Aldean and their three children; Chuck and Emily Aldean and their two children; and Carla and Dan Cheng and their three children.
A memorial service will be held at Grace Harbor Church on Sunday, August 25, at 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Sitka Young Life, P.O. Box 2046, Sitka, AK 99835.



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.                                                                          

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