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)

World War II Veteran Louis Soha Dies at 96

Louis Soha

Louis Soha, a retired Alaska Airlines pilot with ties to Sitka, died in Oakville, Washington, on March 6. He was 96.

He was born on March 5, 1924, to Michael and Sophie Soha in Crystal Falls, Michigan, the youngest of seven children. His father was killed in a mining accident several months after Lou was born and he was raised by his mother and older siblings. Possessed of innate intelligence and natural athletic ability, he was valedictorian of his graduating high school class, All Upper Peninsula in football, a Golden Gloves finalist and a semi-professional baseball player.

Together with four of his older brothers, and virtually every boy in his Crystal Falls High School class of 1942, he enlisted in the service immediately upon graduation. During the war, his mother Sophie had five sons serving in active combat theatres in Europe, North Africa, Burma and the South Pacific. He saw combat as a Marine Corps fighter pilot flying Corsairs in the South Pacific. Among other medals, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for valor in combat. Following his honorable discharge, he ventured to Alaska where he flew as a bush pilot out of Fairbanks and Fort Yukon until he joined Alaska Airlines in 1950, retiring from Alaska Airlines in 1984 after a career that included flying aircraft ranging from the piston driven Norseman, DC-3 and C-130 to modern Boeing jets. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s he flew the milk run in Southeast Alaska with Sitka being his favorite station.

Lou met the love of his life, Evelyn O’Hara, in Fairbanks. Married in 1950, they went on to raise 10 children, first in Fairbanks and Anchorage and then in Seattle, until finally settling in Oakville, Washington. Throughout their married life, Lou and Evelyn traveled extensively throughout the United States, Western and Eastern Europe, the United Kingdom and the Middle East. Alaska, however, remained their favorite destination and they spent many happy hours pulling their Airstream behind their trusty Ford F250, exploring the wilds of Alaska and Northern Canada and mining for gold out of Chicken, Alaska. In their retirement they often returned to Sitka to visit family, including their daughter, Barbara Morse, and her family.

Lou was a classic member of the Greatest Generation. He was forever proud of his Polish heritage and his Marine Corps service, although he rarely discussed the particulars of his wartime experiences and it was typical that his family became aware of his DFC only when one of his sons was doing random on-line family research. Above all, he was fiercely devoted to his loving wife and family and to his Catholic faith.

Lou was predeceased by Evelyn in 2006 and by a son, Paul Soha, in 2019. He will forever be held in loving memory by his nine surviving children, 33 grandchildren and more than 30 great-grandchildren. A graveside funeral service was held at St. Joseph’s Catholic cemetery in Elma, Washington, that included a Marine color guard and a Piper Cub “flyover.” “Semper fi” Louis Soha!

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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.

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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: https://cityofsitka.org

 

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20 YEARS AGO
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.

50 YEARS AGO
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.

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