ACADEMY GRADUATION – Governor Mike Dunleavy shakes hands with graduates at the Alaska Department of Public Safety Law Enforcement Training Session 1902 graduation ceremony this afternoon at the Sheet'ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi. Twenty-six law enforcement officers from across the state received their badges in the ceremony and will be taking jobs as Alaska State Troopers, a Wildlife Trooper, and city and borough police department officers.  (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Mardelle Westover

    Longime Sitkan Mardelle Westover passed away peacefully in her sleep on Sunday, May 27, after a short but courageous battle with cancer and heart disease. She was 82 years old.
    Viola Mardelle O’Connor was born to Joseph and Viola O’Connor in Bellingham, Wash., on July 13, 1929. Her parents divorced when she was young, and she was adopted by her new father, Harry Smith. The family, including younger brother Tommy, who died in 1976, lived in California and then moved to Alaska where they settle first in Ketchikan and then in Sitka in 1945.
    As a high school student in Sitka, Mardelle excelled in basketball and softball. She met Stanley Westover while there and they were married shortly after her graduation. In the next four years they became the proud parents of three children, Carolyn, Cheryl and Rick (who preceded her in death.)
    The family business, Lakeside Grocery, which had been started by Mardelle’s mother, Vi, and Bud Lovell, and originally called The Hut, was bought by Stanley Westover and moved to a location on the ground floor under the Masonic Lodge in 1959. After Stanley drowned in a hunting accident in 1961, friends and relatives rallied around Mardelle, her mom, and her children to work the business. Lakeside was eventually moved to its current location on Halibut Point Road.
    Mardelle’s family and friends have said that she always brought out the best in those close to her. She leaves a legacy of precious memories of touching others’ lives with kindness, warmth and generosity.
    Over the last four months, from the time she was first diagnosed, Mardelle was called and visited by numerous friends and well-wishers. The family thanks all those who took their time and energy to make her last days as happy as possible.
    Mardelle is survived by her daughters, Carolyn Hammack and husband Ray, Cheryl Westover and partner Mary Ann Jones, grandson Michael Coleman and wife Tessie, great-grandchildren Michaela, Malissa, Kaycie, Trevan and Chance; brother-in-law Wayne Westover; sister-in-law Marlene Westover; nieces Deborah Diebert, Diane Graveline, Gayel Cheing and Sandy West; goddaughter Tori Hay; and many best friends, including Pauline Fredrickson and Kate Sulser.
    A memorial service will be held 10 a.m. Friday, June 8, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.
    Their mom also wanted a party for all those who would like to attend, so, on Saturday, June 16, there will be a celebration of life for her from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Elks Lodge,  her family said.
    The family asks that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Brave Heart Volunteers or another care-giving organization in Sitka.
“Had Mom had time to give her parting words, they would have been,  ‘Help others when and where you can. Be kind to all living creatures. Well, dear hearts, I gotta scoot.’”

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