CHECKING IT OUT – Fia Turczynewycz, a visitor from Ohio, walks her dog,  Mani, past the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center this morning. Tlingit master carver Tommy Joseph’s newly completed yellow cedar Waas’go pole, pictured in the background, was moved out of the park’s carving shed Thursday to make room for Joseph’s latest project – carving a Tlingit canoe with the aid of an apprentice. Joseph’s Waas’go pole is the third version of the Haida pole in the past century – a reproduction of a reproduction made in the 1930s by George Benson, which is placed inside the visitor center. Rangers are working on approval for a location along the park’s trail system for the new pole. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Peter David Sumner Dies; Piano Technician was 68

Peter David Sumner

Peter (Pete) David Sumner, a piano technician who was known in Sitka, died peacefully at home in San Anselmo, California, March 29. He was 68.
Pete is survived by his wife Lynn O’Brien of San Anselmo; his brother Michael John Sumner and his partner Kelly Scott of Lincolnshire, England; and by his daughters Rachel Henry (Jay) of Cleethorpes, England, and Elizabeth Dungworth (Richard) of Melton Mowbray, England.
He is also survived by his beloved grandchildren, Ruby Henry, Archie Henry, Erin Henry, Ted Henry and Jack Dungworth.
Pete was born in Sheffield, England, April 21,1950, to Kathleen and Geoffrey Sumner. His family moved to Humberston near Cleethorpes in 1958 and he graduated from Clee Grammar School at age 16. After leaving school, he worked in the offices of the Ross Group on Grimsby fish docks.
He was a prominent member of Grimsby Folk Club and played there with many local musicians. In 1978 he moved to Bermuda to work for the Bank of Bermuda. In his time there, he immersed himself in music as a member of the Bermuda Folk Club, helping to bring numerous artists to Bermuda to perform and creating lifetime friendships in the process.
He returned to England in 1984 and continued in the music business professionally playing music and operating a music store.
In a pivotal decision in 1985 he enrolled in the Piano Tuning and Maintenance Program at Newark Technical College, graduating in 1988. He had found a vocation he loved and was started on his life path to becoming a   brilliant piano technician.
In 1998, following love and optimism, he moved to the United Sates and settled in southern California. He eventually moved to northern California and continued to work as a piano technician. He was proud to become a U.S. citizen in 2007.
The highlights of his career were his connection with Steinway Pianos, his position as curator of pianos at Stanford University, his five summers as the head piano technician at the Aspen Music Festival, and more recently at the Brevard Music Center.
His work also took him to Mexico, Colombia, China, Oregon, Arizona and Sitka.
He most loved his ability to launch new piano technicians into the world. He mentored other technicians and taught interns at Aspen.
He was a lifelong guitarist and a beautiful mandolin player. He had incredible artistic abilities as evidenced by his handmade bodhrans and leather guitar straps. He discovered the work of Alexander Calder and Joan Miro and was inspired by their art to create many mobiles and sculptures. He created gel prints, mixed media art pieces and recently learned welding to make masks from metal farm implement pieces. In 2018 he began book-binding and was enjoying learning that process.
His obituary would not be complete without mentioning San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He and his wife traveled there in 2015 and instantly fell in love with the community of artists, musicians and other like-minded people. They soon bought a house there and intended to spend several months a year there.
“Thanks to Hospice by the Bay for their support and care,” his wife said. “A special shout-out to Ken and Julie Hardin, Ann Rubin Close, Patty Cason, Mary James and Sandra Soklin and my many nurse friends too numerous to mention ... for being by my side throughout Pete’s illness and still continue to support me.”
Donations in Pete’s name can be made to: the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Direct Relief and 4Ocean.

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Alaska COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 9-17-21)

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 10:47 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 875

Total statewide – 96,002

Total (cumulative) deaths – 454

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 2,207

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

COVID in Sitka

The COVID alert rate for Sitka is “high,” based on 14 new COVID cases in the past 7 days, a rate of 187.73 per 100,000 population. Alert status will be high until the rate per thousand is below 100. Case statistics are as of Thursday.

New cases in Sitka – 5

Cases in last 7 days – 16

Cumulative Sitka cases – 946

Positive cumulative test results in Sitka, as of 9/10/21 – 1,090

Deceased (cumulative) – 3

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

• • •


Sitka Vax Stats 

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

Partially vaccinated – 6,132 (83.03%)

Fully vaccinated – 5,991 (81.12%)

Total population (12+) – 7,385

Sitka has vaccinated fully vaccinated 89.85 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:





September 2001

Alaska Pacific Bank has opened an account for donations to be directed to the families of the World Trade Center attack of Sept. 11. The account has been opened with a $2,000 contribution from the bank and an anonymous donor.

September 1971

At the Sitka Historical Society’s meeting Sunday, Mrs. Esther Billman of Sheldon Jackson College presented a “surprise package” of recent donations to the Sheldon Jackson Museum by Mr. Hugh Brady, youngest son of former Territorial Gov. John Brady.