Shirley Anderson Dies; Longtime Sitkan was 90

Shirley Irene (Slater) Anderson

Shirley Irene (Slater) Anderson, a longtime Sitka resident and nurse, passed away peacefully at the Sitka Pioneers Home on August 22, 2022. She was 90.

Shirley was born Sept. 21, 1931, in a cabin in Foster, Oregon, the 13th of 16 children of Otto and Pearl J. Slater.

At the age of 6 she moved to Yakima, Washington, to live with her Aunt Grace and Uncle Garrett Alton Dove. After completing eighth grade, she returned to Oregon, graduating from Sweet Home Union High School in 1949.

After high school she attended Central Washington College in Ellensburg, Washington, for two years, majoring in business, then transferred to the University of Washington School of nursing in Seattle. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1955, and then worked at Virginia Mason Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Following her work at the Children’s Hospital, Shirley came to Sitka to work at Mt. Edgecumbe Public Health Service Hospital. In 1959, she was promoted to lead nurse on a general pediatric ward at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. She was the school nurse for Mt. Edgecumbe High School from 1960 to 1966.

In 1969 she earned a master of public health degree from the University of Hawaii, bravely pioneering her field work in the Southern Caroline Islands of Micronesia, and traveling to Japan.

On March 22, 1968, Shirley and August Anderson were married. They had two sons, Carl and Keith.

Shirley was elected president of the Sitka Health Association in 1972. With the guidance of Dr. George Longenbaugh, members established Sitka’s ambulance and emergency services.

She also served on the board of Southeast Alaska Comprehensive Health Planning, and starting in the 1970’s she was on the board of the Sitka Mental Health Clinic for 11 years. She was a founding member and supporter of the Lincoln Street Investment Society, which met and thrived in the 1990s.

She was an active member of the Sitka Lutheran Church for 65 years, serving as facilitator for the women’s group and as church librarian.

A stroke in 2009 curtailed her participation in many community activities; however, she continued to read copious numbers of books and strove to continue learning each day.

Shirley also enjoyed cooking, gardening – and traveling. She visited Paris, England and Japan, among other places, and would drive through Canada to family reunions in Oregon. The Slater family was large so the reunions drew scores of kinfolk.

She is survived by her brother Caryl Slater of La Pine, Oregon; her sons Carl Anderson and his wife, Jennifer, of Lebanon, Oregon, and Keith Anderson and his wife, Christy, of Sitka; and two grandchildren, Sarah and Slater.

A funeral services will be held at a later date.

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