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.

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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.