‘Buddy’ Howard Dies; Former Sitkan was 78

William Eli “Buddy” Howard

With his family at his side, William Eli “Buddy” Howard, journeyed to the other shore on June 4, 2020, in Anchorage. He was 78. He was comforted in life by his wife, Sandy Howard, and their children: Tommy Harrison, Lonnie Harrison, Danny Harrison, Julene Howard, John Howard, Nathan Howard, Gregory Wright, Keith Nelson, Jeffrey Devlin, Joshua Wright, and Patrick Howard. He was extremely committed to family being together.

Buddy was born March 10, 1942, and raised in Sitka; he was a Sitka High School alumnus. He served in the U.S. Army, returned to Southeast Alaska where he worked, raised his family, and honored his Tlingit culture.

His Tlingit name was Shaayi Éesh, of the L’uxnaxh.adi (Coho) clan from Kayaash Ka Hit. He is the child and grandchild of the Chookaneidi clan. He was a Hit S’aati (Clan House Caretaker) of the Mother Coho House in Sitka, and he provided clan leadership in Hoonah. He lived a subsistence lifestyle in Sitka and Hoonah.

Buddy’s jobs in Sitka included as a Teamster truck driver on the airport construction job; firefighter who battled the Sitka Cold Storage fire;  Anchor Taxi driver; and bartender at the American Legion, Elks Lodge, Moose Lodge, and Ernie’s Old Time Saloon. 

He worked for the Alaska Marine Highway System and skippered the M/V Dolphin and the M/V Marmot,  buying fish for Wards Cove Packing Co. out of Excursion Inlet.

In Hoonah, where Buddy lived with his wife and family, he was an Icy Strait Point bus driver since Huna Totem Corporation’s tourist destination’s beginning days. He also delivered meals to elders and those in need for Catholic Community Services of Juneau.

While he was working a Sitka job, it was reported in the Nov. 27, 1961, Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: “A young couple and their four-year-old son undoubtedly owe their lives to the quick action of Daniel Cole, construction and maintenance superintendent at Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. At 4:25 p.m. yesterday Cole with a fellow island employee, Buddy Howard, was working on a barge about 100 yards from the shore at Mt. Edgecumbe. Howard noted a boat in distress off the corner of the old pier at the island. Cole jumped into a skiff and as he rowed to the spot noted a man bobbing up and down in the cold waters of the channel. When he reached the area, however, the man was two feet under water and he used a fish net to drag him into the skiff. Then Cole started ashore, but the rescued man revived and cried out his wife and son were trapped in the cabin of the overturned 16-foot boat… Rescued were Mr. and Mrs. Richard Gillian of Sitka and their son, James.”

In his hometown of Sitka, Buddy was a member of the American Legion, Elks Lodge, and Moose Lodge.  He was a beloved St. Michael’s Cathedral Russian Orthodox Church member and an alter boy together with his cousin/brother, Leo Houston, Jr.

He was a shareholder of Sealaska Corp., Huna Totem Corp., and Shee Atiká Inc., having worked—and played Santa Claus—for Shee Atiká. He was enrolled at the Central Council of Tlingit-Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska and Sitka Tribe of Alaska.

Buddy was preceded in death by his parents: Eli and Margaret Howard, and Ed and Sarah James; daughter Ann Marie Howard; brothers John Smith Jr. and Robert Smith; cousin/brother Leo Houston, Jr. (born June 4); and many extended family members.

With his wife and children, Buddy leaves siblings Jimmy Howard of Arizona; Ann (Don) Armstrong, Soldotna; Mary I. Miller of Sitka; Walter Smith, Juneau; Norman Smith, Hoonah; and Carolyn Wichman, Kenai.

He also leaves his uncle and clan leader Herman Davis Sr., numerous grandchildren and  great-grandchildren, a large extended and loving family, and many friends who will always remember his strength and conviction, kind and loving character, brilliant smile, and caring nature. 

His family plans to release details of cultural services, church services and other plans later.  The family appreciates all prayers, thoughts, and support. Gunalcheesh.

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At a Glance

(updated 5-30-2023)

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 12:15 pm Tuesday, May 30.

New cases as of Tuesday: 165

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 298,078

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,468

Case Rate per 100,000 – 22.64

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

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 58.70

Cases in last 7 days – 5

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,424

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






June 2003

After taking an opening-day lead in the Sitka Salmon Derby last Saturday, Mike Bagley wondered how long his 47.6-pound king salmon would remain the top fish. When the derby closed Sunday night, Bagley was declared the winner. ... Kathy Miller was runner-up with a 45.7-pound fish; Craig Taylor third with a 43.6 pounder; and Joe Mudry fourth at 40 pounds.



June 1973

Some 35 high-ranking foreign diplomats will be in Sitka Saturday, part of a statewide tour. ... The New Archangel Dancers will perform for the group at the Centennial Building.