2020 TOURIST SEASON – The 285-foot super yacht Lonian is tied up at the Old Sitka Dock Friday while its support vessel, the 217-foot Hoder equipped with a helicopter and ROV, is seen anchored in the distance. The 14-passender Lonian, which was launched in 2019, is owned by billionaire Lorenzo Fertitta, former owner of UFC. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Craig Keener, 64, Dies; Was a Former Resident

 

Kevin C. ''Craig'' Keener

“Like a fast-flittering meteor, a fast flying cloud, a flash of the lightning, a break of the wave, he passes from life to his rest in the grave.” (By Wm. Knox) 

Kevin C. “Craig” Keener (aka Kevin Lee Vilandre) passed away in his sleep May 26, 2020, at age 64 in Lynnwood, Washington.

He was born in Sedro Woolley, Washington, the son of Grover Lee “Red” Keener and Dorothy Ray Sherrill. At the time, his dad owned and operated a logging operation. He had two older sisters, Sherrill Lee “Sheri” and Kathleen Ray “Kathy”. Their mother passed away when Craig was 7. The family moved to Sitka after his dad accepted a job as a diesel mechanic and heavy equipment operator.

In 1966 his dad married Mabel (Cropley) and voila! Craig had a stepfamily. Craig grew close to Mabel and her children Abby and Wally.

“Our parents later divorced but our relationships were lifelong,” Abby said. “My childhood memories are filled with the antics of Craig and my brother Wally. Pretending to play the guitar in front of the window facing (Mabel’s) Drive In – rock & roll (usually The Rolling Stones or The Doors) blasting loudly in the background – race cars set up in the entire living room; card games, poker games, chess, darts, BB guns and bows & arrows flying through the house when adults weren’t around,” Abby said.

“Once I accidentally hit my brother in the butt with a dart and Craig was the calm in the storm, protecting me as usual. Shenanigans, boy oh boy, those boys were something else! Breaking into the Drive In to cook burgers at night, feeding the neighborhood kids burgers and fries; eating all the food in the freezers when mom and Red were gone – finding out later that all that yummy precooked food was for an American Legion tournament so Mom had to start cooking like a madwoman because we had fed everybody in the neighborhood and made it all disappear. It was lucky for us that Craig was in on that with us, because with mom, he could pretty much do no wrong. I know he was mom’s favorite,” Abby said with a pout and a laugh. 

Craig graduated from Sitka High in 1974. He was active in the Honor Society, track team and basketball team and was on the Student Council. He studied mathematics at Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka; electrical engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks; and electronics at Washington Technical Institute; and attended the University of Colorado.

Craig was a wanderer, an adventurer, a speculator, an inventor and an explorer. He was interested in sports, politics, current events and the global climate; and he loved to debate. He enjoyed attempting to show people how absurd he thought life was. He was complex, multi-talented, competitive, challenging, very intelligent, bright and clever. 

He was a Registered Professional Surveyor licensed in FCC 1st Class Radio and Radar; CSM Certified Inshore and Offshore Hydrographer; classified in Motorola MiniRanger, Western Argo Operations and Repair, and Del Norte Responders.

He created software and hardware, computer system designs for field navigation, hydrographic surveys, rig placement, and pipeline installations, seismic data acquisition and marine vessels.

Craig traveled for work and fun; surveying oceans, rivers and land in the United States and around the world – to places like Florida, the South Bering Sea, Yakutat, and the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Costa Rico, the Gulf of Mexico, the Beaufort Sea, Africa, Texas, Wyoming, Washington and beyond.

Craig loved his family and friends. He would call and check in with them often.

“He was a constant in my life, supportive and loving. I’ll miss his calls, ‘Abby!... Keener here. How are you doing? What’s happening?’ He also enjoyed fishing and no matter where he was, he was always ready to get out on a boat, catch fish (or not) and enjoy the day,” Abby said.

Craig was preceded in death by his mother Dorothy (Sherrill) Keener; his father, Red Keener; his stepmother, Mabel (Cropley) Moy; his stepbrother, Wally Cropley; his sister Sheri; and his nephew D.C. McGraw. 

Craig is survived by his sister, Kathy (Dormand) McGraw of Nevada; his stepsister Abby Cropley and family; his niece, Shiloh Sparks and her children, Kody and Carter; his niece Madison McGraw; his Aunt Ann (Jack) Davis of Mount Vernon, Washington; and his cousin Linda Muscatell (and family) of Everett, Washington.

Also dear to his heart were Dale Vilandre and the Frank Vilandre family; and other family and friends, too many to mention.

Due to COVID-19 advisories and travel restrictions, no services have been planned. His cremains will be placed in the Sherrill family plot with his grandfather, grandmother, mother and sister, at the Hamilton Cemetery in Skagit County, Washington. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations to a heart fund.  

 

“So, goodbye until we meet again, my brother. Rest in peace now. I’ll see you in the by and by.” Abby Cropley.

August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:

 

On March 30 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 8-7-20)

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 11:20 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 53

Total statewide – 3,536

Total (cumulative) deaths – 25

Active cases in Sitka – 20 (14 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 141.

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

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 

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20 YEARS AGO
August 2000

High prices for chum salmon, low pink returns, and record numbers of fish in Deep Inlet have turned the Sitka fishing grounds into Route 66 this summer. “Overall it’s been a fantastic season so far,” said Steve Reifenstuhl, operations manager for the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association.

50 YEARS AGO
August 1970

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Ireney, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, will head a gathering of Orthodox prelates from North American and abroad in ceremonies canonizing the first American Orthodox saints, Father Herman of Alaska. A group of Sitkans will fly to Kodiak for the event.

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