Mary Ann Kuzma, Former Sitkan, Passes Away at 53


Mary Ann Kuzma

Mary Ann Kuzma, 53, of Anchorage, passed away October 22, 2020, at Anchorage Native Medical Center.

She was born in Sitka on May 5, 1967, the daughter of Alice May Moy (T’aawak Neek Tla’a) and Andrew Kuzma. She was the grandchild of Henry Moy (born Moy Gee Pong) and May Molly Brown of Hoonah; and a great-granddaughter of Paul Brown, Kaagwaantaan, Eagle, of the Kook Hit (Box House). She was a Tlingit of Lituya Bay, Yeil (Raven), T’akdeintaan, a Sea Pigeon of the Kaa Shaayi Hit (Severed Head House), and she was very proud of her Alaska Native heritage.

Mary Ann loved God, church, singing gospel and traveling, and would show her happiness with big smiles or by singing her favorite Country or Christmas songs. She loved her mother, family, friends, and animals. She placed them, and their friends and acquaintances, front and center in her life. She found joy and comfort in knowing how everybody was doing, and even if she didn’t know someone well, she enjoyed hearing about them. If you cared about someone, she cared about them, too. When she and her cousin Abby were on the phone together, the conversation would start with how she was, what she had been doing, how everyone else was and then Mary Ann had to have conversations with each of Abby’s dogs.

Mary Ann gained appreciation for Native culture from her mother who was a weaver, basket maker and member of the Noow Tlein (Castle Hill) Dancers; and from her grandmother May, who was a Native speaker and made moccasins and jewelry, beaded art and traditional Native foods.

She was active during her school years, walking for miles, running, dancing, playing soccer and bowling. She attended the Sitka Native Education Program, and was with the Gajaa Heen Dancers from the 6th through 12th grades. When Mary Ann danced, she held nothing back. She danced and sang with her whole heart and soul.

She traveled in Alaska and the lower 48 with the Gajaa Heen Native dance group and the International Special Olympics. She also enjoyed helping to raise funds for local events, dance groups and Special Olympics. She graduated from Sitka High School in 1986.

Mary Ann lived in Sitka, Juneau, Eagle River and Anchorage. She volunteered at libraries, the ASPCA Thrift Store, and more. She liked going to the malls, second-hand stores, and garage sales. After retiring from the Alaska Brewhouse, she traveled more; flying, driving, RV’ing, cruising, or taking ferries in Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon and Washington state. Holidays, celebrations, theater shows, musicals, and Christmas and dinner cruises were her thing. She loved photo ops, especially with Santa, the Easter Bunny, and Disney characters.

Abby said “Mary Ann was an inspiration because she was such a constant, dedicated friend and loving family member; always checking in and remembering everyone.”

She had a curiosity about life, often going to the library to thoughtfully pick out books for someone that related to a previous conversation they’d had.

“Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t always go well and, bless her heart, Mary Ann wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows,” a family member said.

“One time she came home with books on Alzheimer’s and dementia and began to firmly explain to her favorite Aunt Mabel exactly what was wrong with her memory. Poor Mom. Tempers flared. It was quickly time to separate them and have one of ‘those’ talks with Mary Ann. Poor Mary Ann. She really did mean well.”

Mary Ann was preceded in death by her grandparents, her dad in 1980, her mom in 2005; and aunts and uncles Marietta (Harvey) Williams, Clarence (Esther) Moy, Walter and Virginia Moy, Mabel Moy, Henry (Peggy) Moy, Patrick Moy, and Joan Derenoff. Mary Ann is survived by her uncle, Nick Derenoff and her cousins.

Alvin, Tamsyn and Abby gave special thanks to Mary Ann’s sister of the heart, Heather Swaney, and to Heather’s family who were very dear to Mary Ann.

For those asking about flowers, the family suggested they keep Mary Ann’s story in mind. She wanted to be back home in Sitka but needed an assisted living home. She had the heart of a champion and kept hoping, but was told there wasn’t anything available.

“It didn’t happen in time for Mary Ann, but it would be great if Sitka had that option for other young people who need it,” a family member said. “So, if you are ever in a position to help make that happen, please do.”

The family expressed gratitude “for the thoughts, prayers, photos and remembrances on Facebook. You can also send them by mail to Abby Cropley, 2010 Kainulainen Dr., Sitka, AK 99835.

Mary Ann has been cremated and is back home. Her ashes and her mother’s will be placed together in the memorial wall at Sitka National Cemetery. Due to COVID19 travel restrictions, her Anchorage memorial service is postponed until May 2021. A service in Sitka hasn’t been planned.

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AK COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 1-12-22)

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 am Wednesday.

New cases as of Tuesday: 2,414

Total statewide – 167,008

Total (cumulative) deaths – 953

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 3,311

Current Hospitalizations – 81

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

COVID in Sitka

The COVID alert rate for Sitka is “high,” based on 130 new COVID cases in the past 7 days. Case statistics are as of Sunday.

New cases in Sitka – 7

Cases in last 7 days – 130

Cumulative Sitka cases – 1,467

Deceased (cumulative) – 6

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

  

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20 YEARS AGO
January 2002

Classified ads, Rentals: 3-bdrm. house on the beach. $900; 3-bdrm duplex, washer/dryer $945; Great downtown house, 2 bdrms., 2 baths, furnished,
W/D, hardwood floors $850; 2-bdrm. roomy apartment $945..

 

50 YEARS AGO
January 1972

The City and Borough Assembly Tuesday approved an ordinance establishing a transportation committee to advise the assembly and promote transportation services for the municipality. Members are Cecil McClain, Ray Mabey, Clarence Kramer,
Dick Cushing and Burt Hansen.

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