Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s office building on the corner of  Siginaka Way and Katlian Street is pictured Tuesday. The building’s HVAC system was replaced using Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. The Supreme Court recently ruled that Alaska Native corporations are also eligible for CARES Act funding. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Neil James Huff Dies; Was Retired Fisherman

Neil James Huff

Neil James Huff, of Sitka, passed away peacefully on Saturday, August 29, shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. He was surrounded by family, including his beloved wife JoAnn.

Neil was born Feb. 4, 1952, in Eugene, Oregon, into a family of Oregonian homesteaders, loggers, and Pacific Northwest Coast fishermen. The family frequently moved around throughout Neil’s childhood, coming to Sitka for the first time in 1952, and returning in 1958 when Neil was six years old. Neil’s father Richard worked for  Alaska Lumber and Pulp Company at the Sitka mill, and his mother Marian cared for the four children, worked for one of the local banks, and played piano for the Moose Lodge. The family relocated to Oregon in 1962, but the rugged landscape and small town life left a strong impression on young Neil.

After spending the remainder of his childhood in Seattle, Neil joined the U.S. Navy at age 17, serving as a radio technician in both Japan and Adak. He then went to live in Washington, staying near his family, as family was always the most important part of his life.

He met his greatest love, his wife JoAnn, in 1976, and began commercial fishing in Southeast Alaska in 1977, following in his father Richard’s footsteps. Neil first ran the F/V Saratoga, followed by the F/V Paula Diane, learning as he went, while JoAnn worked in Seattle as a CPA for a prominent accounting firm. Neil and JoAnn married in 1978 at Fauntleroy Church in Seattle, and the two soon traveled to the East coast to visit Ashia, his daughter from a first marriage. They then returned to Seattle and began expanding their family, welcoming son George in 1980, and daughter Erynn in 1983.

Shortly afterward the family permanently moved to Sitka, where they enjoyed being a part of the early 1980s commercial fishing community. Neil captained the F/V Rocky B, participating in the black cod and halibut derby days, fishing Chatham Strait, and became politically involved in the formation of early fishing regulations.

Neil enjoyed commercial fishing in Southeast Alaska for 28 years, eventually retiring and focusing on his growing family and projects at home. He also became more involved with the local Moose Lodge, serving two terms as governor. Neil cherished spending time with his grandchildren, traveling with JoAnn, working in his garden, playing pool and golf, and watching the Mariners and Oregon Ducks play.

Neil was preceded in death by his brother George Huff, mother Marian Burke, and father Richard Huff. He is survived by his wife of 41 years, JoAnn Huff of Sitka; children Ashia Lane and husband Daniel Gunn of Sitka, George Huff and wife Danielle Savory Huff of Portland, Erynn Huff Baird and husband James Baird of Portland; four beautiful grandchildren; his sister Carolyn Huff of Dallas, Oregon; brother Steve Huff and wife Bonnie of Seabeck, Washington; and many loved nieces, nephews, and other family members.

His legacy extends beyond his strong work ethic and go get ’em attitude — Neil was also known for his charisma, kindness, and sharp sense of humor. He will be deeply missed by his family and friends.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers contributions be made to the charitable organization of your choice.


A celebration of life potluck will be held 3-6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27, under the main shelter at Halibut Point Rec.

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 8-4-21)

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 11:27 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Tuesday: 323

Total statewide – 72,584

Total (cumulative) deaths – 385

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,738

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 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Active cases in Sitka – 123

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 37

Cumulative Sitka cases – 873 (797 resident; 76 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 748

Deceased (cumulative) – 2

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

• • •


Sitka Vax Stats 

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

Partially vaccinated – 5,682 (77%)

Fully vaccinated – 5,242 (71%)

Total population (12+) – 7,385

Sitka has vaccinated fully vaccinated 79 percent 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:





August 2001

The Assembly agreed Thursday to place ballot questions on cell phone usage, downtown traffic lights and a fire hall before the voters in the Oct. 2 municipal election. Assembly members emphasized the election results would be used as a rough guide, not a mandate, on policy issues.

August 1971

Sitka student Phillip R. Wyman is among new admissions for the fall at Washington State University.