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)

Ruth A. Johnson Dies In Arizona at Age 82

Ruth A. Johnson

Former Sitkan Ruth Adeline (Wahler) Johnson passed away in Sun City, Arizona, on September 5, 2019, from complications of Parkinson’s disease.
She had valiantly fought the disease which took many things away from her, including her voice and special laugh.
She was born June 15, 1937, on a farm in Barney Township, North Dakota, where she learned the importance of hard work and doing the job right. Ruth (Ruthie to her North Dakota family) was working as a waitress when she met her future husband, John Floyd Johnson, and started the adventure. After marrying on November 9, 1955, they made their first home in North Dakota, then on to Montana, Oregon, Idaho, and, lastly, following the call to Alaska. In 1966 they moved to Sitka, with their three young daughters, where Floyd took an electrician job at Alaska Lumber and Pulp Company.
Ruth was first a homemaker and mother and later decided to venture outside the home and work for the school district as a cook and administrative secretary, and then with the Sitka Visitors Bureau. She enjoyed all of the work and developed many close, lifelong friendships.
She was an active member of Sitka Lutheran Church, where she was designated by Pastor Jim Drury as the “minister of joy and laughter.” She volunteered countless hours at the church and White Elephant Shop. If she saw a need, she filled it - helping her family, friends, and neighbors.
Ruth loved her home in Sitka, but in her later years as the Parkinson’s disease began to take hold, she spent time in Sun City, Arizona, which provided better access to meet her medical needs.
She was preceded in death by her husband; parents, Herman and Helen Wahler; stepmother, Ella; and siblings Harold, Elroy, and Marlys, and other family members.
She leaves behind her brother-in-law, Lawrence Heley, of Ledgerwood,  N.D.; sisters-in-law, Delphia Johnson of Flagstaff, Arizona, and Betty Johnson of Minnesota; daughters, Barbara (Patrick) Ebert of Bainbridge Island, Washington, Ellen (John) Dumond of Manhatten Beach, Calif,, and Gail (Ty) Rogers of Poulsbo, Washington; grandchildren Kelly (Jon) Snow, and Josh, Nate and Andy Becker; and great-grandchildren Aiden, Sam, and Chloe Snow.
In addition, she is survived by several nieces and nephews, related family, and close friends around the country.
She was a trusting and caring person who met life’s challenges head-on and always loved a good laugh. Ruth loved traveling, being with family, and visiting with friends over a home-cooked meal.
“Her vibrant, fun-loving, joyous, and generous nature will be missed by all who knew her,” her family wrote. “She remained a mischievous prankster in spirit - almost to the end. Her spirit has now been released from the body that was failing her and she will live on in our hearts and memories and be forever missed.”
A memorial service will be performed at the Sitka Lutheran Church in October on a date yet to be determined. Her ashes will be laid to rest at the Sitka National Cemetery with her husband of 43 years.



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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