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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At a Glance

(updated 5-18-22)

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 11:55 pm Wednesday, May 18.

New cases as of Wednesday: 1,675

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 249,522

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,252

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 3,762

Current Hospitalizations – 44

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

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "medium.'' Case statistics are as of Wednesday.

Cases in last 7 days – 54

Cumulative Sitka cases – 2,633

Hospitalizations (to date) – 32

Deceased (cumulative) – 6

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.





May 2002

Police blotter: Two juveniles who were seen throwing their belonging at each other were told to stop or face arrest. ... A woman was reported arguing with her husband and friends, all of whom agreed she had been drinking too much. ... A man said he thought a neighbor had his missing cat, but the neighbor showed police his cat and her six kittens. A watch will be kept for the missing cat.


May 2002

 There will not be a commercial herring spawn and help fishery in the Sitka area, Jim Parker, Fish & Game fisheries management biologist, announced.  There’s been good herring spawn but herring haven’t spawned in the macrocystis kelp beds.