Service for Shirley Howard, Lifelong Sitkan, Set Aug. 20

Shirley G. Howard


A celebration of the life of Shirley G. Howard will be held 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, at the Elks Lodge.

The event will be a potluck.

Shirley, a lifelong Sitkan, died July 26 in Sitka at the age of 78.

She was born Oct. 9, 1943, in Sitka, one of 17 children of Helen (Liberty) and George Howard III. Shirley was the oldest of the sisters, and Glenn Howard was the oldest of the brothers.

Shirley was a very private person, an independent, strong woman, and stubborn like the rest of the Howard family, her family said. She had a kind and gentle spirit, and loved her daughters Michelle and Ramona, and all her siblings very much.

Her daughter Michelle said her favorite memories were of family gatherings, so many, just about for every occasion.

‘‘Our favorite spot to go camping was Nakwasina – we’d all anchor up together and enjoy the weekend,” Michelle said.

She also  remembers when her Aunt Gina and her daughter Rebecca would come over to have coffee, then go for a walk downtown where they’d have more coffee.

“Aunt Ruby would take us all ‘cruising’ every evening,” Michelle said. “Another thing some of us did would sit on the wall in front of the Pioneer Home, and watch people drive, and ... would see how many people would lean into their turns. Lol! Loved it! I felt so blessed to be part of such a big family.”

Shirley was a stay-at-home mom until her girls were grown. Her first job was at Sheldon Jackson College, where she worked in the kitchen – her sister Ruby worked in a different part of the school.

Her second job was in the kitchen at Westmark. Her co-workers loved her and would take care of her if it got too busy, her family said. “Mom was a smoker and one co-worker would always go outside with her to keep her company and make sure she was safe, as she worked the swing shift,” Michelle said.

Her biggest regret was being a smoker. She had quit at least 20 years ago, but then she got COPD,  Michelle said, and as the years went by she began to struggle more with various other health problems.

“This is where her strength came in,” Michelle said. “No matter her health she had a daily routine and stuck to it. It helped her getting out of the house everyday for lunch and coffee.”

Her first spot was Agave, where the staff treated her like family. Her second place became Pizza Express, where she also was treated well and was loved.

Michelle would meet her almost every Saturday. “We talked about anything, and we had some good laughs, and she became my best friend – and those will be my special happy memory.”

Shirley was a member of Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Tlingit and Haida Central Council, Sealaska, and Shee Atika.

She is survived by her sister Gine (Bob) Lundy of Bremerton, Washington; her sister Diane Howard of Issaquah, Washington; daughters Michelle (John) Upcraft of Sitka, and  and Ramona Garwood of Petersburg; granddaughter Rebecca (Cody) Woolam of Florida; and grandsons Sean Short and Marcus Short, and great-great-grandkids Mark Short and Scarlett Short, all of Petersburg.

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July 2004
Photo caption: Junior League All Stars will compete in a tournament in Wrangell. From left are Bryn Calhoun, Chris Scott, Sean O’Neill, Ross Venneberg, Caleb McGraw, Richard Carlos, Jacob Houston, Coby McCarty, Bryan Lovett and Daniel Erickson.


July 1974

Photo caption: Volunteers leave the Yaw Building Library with loads of books being transferred to the new Orin and Betty Stratton Library on the Sheldon Jackson campus. SJC librarian Evelyn Bonner expressed appreciation to the community for the help.


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