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)

Althea Buckingham Dies; Former Resident was 97

Althea Rebecca Buckingham


Althea Rebecca Buckingham passed away May 13, 2020, in Puyallup, Washington, at the age of 97.

She was born on Oct. 31, 1922, to Clarence and Hopewell Rands in Corvallis, Oregon. Because of the Depression the family moved to Juneau, Alaska, in 1935, where her parents ran a boarding house to make ends meet.  She and her sisters, Margaret and Barbara, helped their mother with cleaning and cooking until the family again moved in 1938 to Sitka, where Clarence had accepted a job as manager of the retail yard of Columbia Lumber Company.   

Althea graduated from Sitka High School in 1940 and went on to college at Oregon State University in Corvallis.  She transferred to the University of Washington in 1943 but returned to Sitka in 1945 before she completed her degree.  She married Fred A. Shabo on Nov. 1, 1946, in St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. This union produced four children; Kenneth Duane, Frederick Wakefield, Rebecca Jeanne and Deborah Ann.  Because Mr. Shabo was a chief warrant officer in the Coast Guard, the family moved around the country quite often, but Althea was able to bring her children home to Sitka for extended visits when her husband was deployed.

In 1959 Althea and her children moved home to Sitka, where she worked for her parents at the Market Center and Sitka Music Store (later Random House).  In 1962 she married Sherman T. Buckingham and after a short stay in Washington State the family lived in Sitka, where Althea worked as an accountant for Sheldon Jackson College.  When they relocated to Walla Walla, Washington, in 1966, she worked as an accountant for Walla Walla Community College.

After Mr. Buckingham’s death in 1968 Althea remained in Walla Walla until her children finished college in 1972, and then made another move to Wisconsin, where she went back to school and studied to become a certified occupational therapy assistant.  She accepted an OTA job in Black Mountain, North Carolina, where she remained until she retired and returned to Sitka in 1988. 

Althea was very active in community service. She founded the Sitka Assembly’s Commission on Aging, served on the Commission of Health Needs and Community Services and the Sitka Community Hospital Board and also participated in Sitka’s Faith in Action and Brave Heart Volunteers.  Her favorite volunteer activity was sharing Sitka with the many visitors at the cruise ship docks while working with the Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In 2006 Althea made her final move to Puyallup, to be near family and medical services.

She is survived by her sisters, Barbara Hames of Sitka and Margaret Morrison of Watsonville, California; her four children, Duane Shabo (Sue) of Lake Tapps, Washington, Rick Shabo (Suzy) of Camano Island, Washington, and Becky Brown (Earl) and Debby Wade (Ken) of Puyallup;  nine grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Because of the current restrictions in place as a result of the pandemic, memorial services for Althea will be scheduled in Sitka at a later date.

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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.