Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s office building on the corner of  Siginaka Way and Katlian Street is pictured Tuesday. The building’s HVAC system was replaced using Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. The Supreme Court recently ruled that Alaska Native corporations are also eligible for CARES Act funding. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Services to be June 18 For Myrtle L. Helem

Myrtle L. Helem

Services for Myrtle Louise Helem, longtime Sitka businesswoman, will be held 1 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, at Sitka National Cemetery.
The Rev. Julie Platson, of St. Peter’s By-the-Sea Episcopal Church, will officiate the graveside service. A  casual memorial reception will follow at Longliner Lodge Restaurant.
Myrtle passed away May 21 at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital-SEARHC after a brief illness. She was 94.
Myrtle Louise Beall was born February 13, 1925, in Vancouver, B.C., the second of three children of Chester Beall and Eliza Angeline Beall. The family moved to West Seattle in the early 1930s, and Myrtle was raised there. Myrtle’s father passed away at a young age, and caring for and raising the children fell solely upon her mother Eliza. As a result, Myrtle, as well as her siblings, had to enter the workforce at a young age. She developed strong business skills and a passion for hard work that would later pave the way to several successful businesses in Sitka.
After graduating West Seattle High School in 1943, Myrtle volunteered with the Navy Waves (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during WW II.  Shortly after the end of her Navy service, she met Gordon James Helem, also a Navy veteran, and the two eloped to San Francisco and wed on October 15, 1947. Their first child, Theresa L., was born the following year.
Gordon was a commercial fisherman who had fished in Alaska for many years. With his connection to Alaska, a strong work ethic and a knack for electrical engineering, he landed a job at Ketchikan Pulp Mill while Myrtle was employed by Bob Ellis at the original Ellis Airlines.
The couple lived in Ketchikan for two years before Gordon went to work in construction at the new pulp mill in Sitka. After construction, Gordon became chief electrician for the new Alaska Pulp Mill in Sitka in 1959. By this time, the couple had three children, with the birth of G. Kenneth and Gerald L. and were ready to set down roots.
While Gordon continued his career with the pulp mill, Myrtle ran two successful laundromats, the Whirlomat on America Street in 1959 and Town & Country Laundry located in the Ken Brown Apartments complex in 1966. In 1972, the Helems founded Sitka Electrical Contractors, then in 1977 Myrtle and Gordon started Sitka True Value Hardware Inc.
While handling multiple jobs, growing businesses, and raising a family, Gordon and Myrtle were also building their dream home that they shared together until Gordon’s passing in 1996. Myrtle continued to live at the home until her passing.
Myrtle Helem was a determined, proud and strong-willed businesswoman. She continued to work and help at Sitka True Value on a daily basis until just a few years ago. Myrtle was often found straightening up aisles, working with employees on product placement, and balancing the accounts.
Besides her passion for her businesses, Myrtle was a long-time active member in several social community organizations including Sitka Emblem Club and the Beta Sigma Phi Women’s Organization.  
Myrtle Helem was preceded in death by her husband Gordon Helem; mother and father Chester and Eliza (Peggy) Beall; and her two sisters, Norma Hilsinger and Dorthea Pitner; and grandson Randy Helem.
Myrtle Louise Helem is survived by her three children, Theresa Helem, Ken (Carole) Helem, and Jerry (Mary) Helem; eight grandchildren,  Doug Helem, Jeff (Jolene) Helem, Tim Bernard, Katie (Jason) Yuhaz, Nicole (Chris) Renneker, Amanda (Jon) Martin, Ashley Grearson and Danielle Helem; and 14 great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the charity of your choice.

August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:


On March 30, 2020, the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff


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Alaska COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 8-4-21)

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 11:27 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Tuesday: 323

Total statewide – 72,584

Total (cumulative) deaths – 385

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,738

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

The City of Sitka posted the following update on COVID-19 cases in Sitka as of 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Active cases in Sitka – 123

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 37

Cumulative Sitka cases – 873 (797 resident; 76 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 748

Deceased (cumulative) – 2

The local case data are from the City of Sitka website.

• • •


Sitka Vax Stats 

The State of Alaska DHSS reported Wednesday the following statistics on vaccinations for Sitka.

Partially vaccinated – 5,682 (77%)

Fully vaccinated – 5,242 (71%)

Total population (12+) – 7,385

Sitka has vaccinated fully vaccinated 79 percent of its senior population (1,478 total), age 65 and older. 

Vaccination data for the City and Borough of Sitka can be found online at:





August 2001

The Assembly agreed Thursday to place ballot questions on cell phone usage, downtown traffic lights and a fire hall before the voters in the Oct. 2 municipal election. Assembly members emphasized the election results would be used as a rough guide, not a mandate, on policy issues.

August 1971

Sitka student Phillip R. Wyman is among new admissions for the fall at Washington State University.