PAINTING WEATHER – Downtown Sitka is pictured from the vantage point of commercial painter Keith Fredrickson’s 60-foot man lift today. Fredrickson Painting Inc. was taking advantage of the partly sunny weather to get a coat of paint on the Sitka Hotel, foreground, today. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Ursula Barbara Zertuche Dies in Sitka at Age 80

Ursula Barbara Zertuche (Rathe)

Ursula Barbara Zertuche (Rathe) was born on March 4, 1940, in Dusseldorf, Germany, to George and Margaret Rathe. She passed away on May 21 at her home in Sitka.

Ursula grew up in Cologne, Germany, where her parents owned a restaurant and guest house.

She and her sister Annagret worked in the family business, and it was there she developed her love for cooking. She had fond memories of working with her mother in the kitchen and learning the hospitality trade. She attended business school in Cologne, where she took bookkeeping classes.

Ursula met and, in 1963, married Harold Conner, who was stationed in Germany with the U.S. Air Force.

They lived in Germany and Spain for the next three years. Her only child, Ron, was born in Spain on December 8, 1963. They left Germany in 1966 and moved to Virginia, where Harold was stationed. Then it was on to Kansas and Arizona.

She obtained her U.S. citizenship in 1974, while living in Arizona. This was something that made her immensely proud. In Arizona she worked for Motorola and at several restaurants and hotels. She owned two horses while in Arizona, Rocky and Scout. She enjoyed showing and riding them.

In 1980, an opportunity to come to Alaska presented itself. Ursula and her son took the big step and traveled to Sitka. This was obviously a big change from Mesa, Arizona. It didn’t take long for her to appreciate living in a small town. She worked first at the Potlatch House, and then the Sheffield Hotel.

She moved from Sitka, back to Arizona in 1988. There she met and later married Alfonso (Al) Zertuche.

She worked for a hotel/resort in Casa Grande and Al was self-employed. They would take many weekend trips to Las Vegas or Laughlin. Following Al’s retirement in 2000, they moved to Del Rio, Texas, where Al was originally from. He passed away in 2008 and Ursula moved back to Sitka in 2013. She lived in the apartment at her son and daughter-in-law’s home until her death.

Ursula loved to cook for her family, spend time with family and friends, read, and walk her dog.

Although she had numerous health issues, she was always fiercely independent. She would hardly ever ask for any assistance.

“We will miss her stories, sense of humor, her tenacity and, of course, her cooking,” her family said.

Her survivors include her son Ron and daughter-in-law Sonja Conner of Sitka; grandson Chatham Conner and Samantha Sparks, and great-granddaughter Brigsleigh Conner, Sitka; grandsons Carson Conner of Wasilla and Josiah Hill of Montana; grandson Traz and Lanie Hill, and great-grandsons Bryson and Bryn of Idabel, Oklahoma; grandson Bailey Hill and great-granddaughter Mila Baylor of Spokane, Washington.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to Brave Heart Volunteers or the Swan Lake Senior Center.


Memorial services will be announced at a later date.

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 5-8-21)

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 11:50 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 114

Total statewide – 66,120

Total (cumulative) deaths – 343

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,508

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 5 p.m. Thursday.

Active cases in Sitka – 7

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 5

Cumulative Sitka cases – 367 (321 resident; 46 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 359

Deceased (cumulative) – 1

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

• • •


Sitka Vax Stats 

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

Partially vaccinated – 4,898 (70.469%)

Fully vaccinated – 4,486 (64.56%)

Total population (16+) –6,949

Sitka has vaccinated (with at least one dose) 1,249 (84.51%) 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:





May 2001

Richard Nelson, Alaska writer and cultural anthropologist, will be speaker at the University of Alaska Southeast, Sitka Campus, commencement exercises at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School

May 1971

The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game announced today that the 100-ton herring quota in District 13, outside of the Sitka Sound area, has been harvested. The 750-ton quota for Sitka Sound was taken by April 7.