ALL IN THE SAME TACO BOAT – Sitkans, many wearing face masks, line up this afternoon at the Sitka Elks Lodge food booth. With the pandemic, most of this year’s Sitka Independence Day events have been modified, but not entirely canceled. The American Legion and Sizzling Chow Cuisine also will have outdoor food booths. While there’s no downtown parade, there is a parade of classic cars that will tour Sitka streets beginning at 1 p.m. at Whale Park. A sing-along and military salute will take place on Totem Square 7 p.m. Friday and a fireworks display will take place 11:30 Friday night over Sitka Channel, with spectators asked to follow social distancing recommendations. The Rotary Club is holding its annual Duck Race on the fourth. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Ursula Barbara Zertuche Dies in Sitka at Age 80

Ursula Barbara Zertuche (Rathe)

Ursula Barbara Zertuche (Rathe) was born on March 4, 1940, in Dusseldorf, Germany, to George and Margaret Rathe. She passed away on May 21 at her home in Sitka.

Ursula grew up in Cologne, Germany, where her parents owned a restaurant and guest house.

She and her sister Annagret worked in the family business, and it was there she developed her love for cooking. She had fond memories of working with her mother in the kitchen and learning the hospitality trade. She attended business school in Cologne, where she took bookkeeping classes.

Ursula met and, in 1963, married Harold Conner, who was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Air Force.

They lived in Germany and Spain for the next three years. Her only child, Ron, was born in Spain on December 8, 1963. They left Germany in 1966 and moved to Virginia, where Harold was stationed. Then it was on to Kansas and Arizona.

She obtained her U.S. citizenship in 1974, while living in Arizona. This was something that made her immensely proud. In Arizona she worked for Motorola and at several restaurants and hotels. She owned two horses while in Arizona, Rocky and Scout. She enjoyed showing and riding them.

In 1980, an opportunity to come to Alaska presented itself. Ursula and her son took the big step and traveled to Sitka. This was obviously a big change from Mesa, Arizona. It didn’t take long for her to appreciate living in a small town. She worked first at the Potlatch House, and then the Sheffield Hotel.

She moved from Sitka, back to Arizona in 1988. There she met and later married Alfonso (Al) Zertuche.

She worked for a hotel/resort in Casa Grande and Al was self-employed. They would take many weekend trips to Las Vegas or Laughlin. Following Al’s retirement in 2000, they moved to Del Rio, Texas, where Al was originally from. He passed away in 2008 and Ursula moved back to Sitka in 2013. She lived in the apartment at her son and daughter-in-law’s home until her death.

Ursula loved to cook for her family, spend time with family and friends, read, and walk her dog.

Although she had numerous health issues, she was always fiercely independent. She would hardly ever ask for any assistance.

“We will miss her stories, sense of humor, her tenacity and, of course, her cooking,” her family said.

Her survivors include her son Ron and daughter-in-law Sonja Conner of Sitka; grandson Chatham Conner and Samantha Sparks, and great-granddaughter Brigsleigh Conner, Sitka; grandsons Carson Conner of Wasilla and Josiah Hill of Montana; grandson Traz and Lanie Hill, and great-grandsons Bryson and Bryn of Idabel, Oklahoma; grandson Bailey Hill and great-granddaughter Mila Baylor of Spokane, Washington.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to Brave Heart Volunteers or the Swan Lake Senior Center.


Memorial services will be announced at a later date.



Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 7-2-20)

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 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Monday: 39

Total statewide – 1,017

Total (cumulative) deaths – 14

Active cases in Sitka – 8 (6 resident; 2 non-resident)

Recovered cases in Sitka – 10 (7 resident; 3 non-resident)

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 68.

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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