Betty DeCicco Dies at 91; Lived an Active Life in Sitka

Betty DeCicco

Betty DeCicco, a long-time resident of Sitka, passed away on August 30, 2020, after a brief illness. She was 91.

She will be remembered for her wit and industriousness, her weakness for ice cream and sweet potato fries, her zest for new life experiences, and her love of all things Sitka.

Betty had the good fortune to live two lives. 

Her first life began on September 18, 1929, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One of the heroines of this life was Betty’s grandmother, “Big Mama.” Among other things, Big Mama taught Betty the importance of thrift, and instilled in her a love of reading. 

A high school friend introduced Betty to the Church during this first life, and she remained a committed Christian from that point forward. After marrying, Betty moved to Montana, then Switzerland as a missionary, where her four children, Jim, Rebecca, Dave, and Dan were born. She also had six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

At age 62, Betty’s second life began. She arrived that summer in Sitka as a volunteer for Sheldon Jackson College. She raved about the town and the many things it had to offer. She loved the college, the Native art and culture, the meadow she could glimpse on the face of Mt. Verstovia.  She even loved the weather.

She had never felt so pulled to a place. 

When her gig at Sheldon Jackson ended, Betty went on to volunteer at Denali, and other locations throughout the lower 48. Yet Baranof Island remained front and center in her letters and phone calls home. She couldn’t wait to get back.

Betty moved permanently to Sitka in 1993. She quickly immersed herself in town life. She delved into volunteer work, sometimes putting in 40-plus-hour work weeks running between multiple organizations. She often ended the day cat- or dog-sitting for a friend or neighbor who was out of town.   

 In turn, Sitka embraced Betty as one of its own. People made sure she had rides to the music festival, the fine arts camp, and to any performances the schools put on. Boat owners brought her fish from their catches and took her out to experience the whales. Local artists educated her on their craft. Friends traveled with her to Kotzebue, Nome and Anchorage. Each year someone made a place for her at their Thanksgiving or Christmas table. 

Betty is survived by her brother Jack Kohl of Port Republic, New Jersey; her son Jim Morrison of St. Louis, Missouri; daughter Rebecca Monet of Encinitas, California; son Dave Morrison of Seattle, Washington; son Dan Morrison of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania; as well as six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Family members intend to visit when it is once again safe to travel and congregate. A hike is planned up Mt. Verstovia to spread Betty’s ashes.

“We would love an opportunity to gather with friends at that time, to celebrate Betty’s much-savored second life in Sitka,” a family member wrote.

“We also wish to express our gratitude to the staff at the Pioneer Home. You treated Betty like family.”

 Those wishing to donate in Betty’s honor are asked to direct contributions to the Sheldon Jackson Museum, or the Sitka Church of the Nazarene.



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At a Glance

(updated 8-17-22)

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 12:15 pm Wednesday, August 17.

New cases as of Wednesday: 1,444

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 277,007

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,296

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 3,843

Case Rate per 100,000 – 198.11

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

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "High.'' Case statistics are as of Wednesday.

Case Rate per 100,000 – 211.20

Cases in last 7 days – 18

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,022

Hospitalizations (to date) – 29

Deceased (cumulative) – 7

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






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 Electric department officials are asking Sitkans to conserve electricity over the next few days while the city recovers from a three-hour power outage caused by a mudslide knocking out a span of the main hydropower transmission line near Heart Lake.


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Legionnaires of the American Legion, Sitka Post No. 13, have been appointed to key committees in the state department. They are George H. Inman Jr., Carroll E. Kohler, Raymond C. Perkins and Edward J. Flynn.