LONG LAYOVER – Bill Foster checks out the 40-foot Russian-flagged inflatable catamaran, Iskatel, that’s been hauled out near the UAS parking lot for the past two years. The pandemic put a halt to the international sailing trip that began in Russia, but the skipper, Anatoly Kazakevich, who recently spoke to the Sentinel, is hopeful about resuming the adventure in the spring and sailing to Siberia. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Susan Sturm Dies at 86; Led an Adventurous Life

Susan Nadine Kinberg Sturm

Susan Nadine Sturm left this life heading for her next adventure on Tuesday, November 24, 2020.

She was born in 1934 in Petersburg to Marvin C. and Alpha K. Kinberg. Susie was a fiercely independent woman who embodied the true Alaska pioneer spirit – there was nothing she couldn’t do. She was a graduate of Sitka High School and attended Sitka Community College before raising her eight children.

Her careers included but were not limited to: bookkeeping for several different companies (including office management for her good friend Carolyn Hammack at Lakeside Grocery); logging at Kidney Cove; commercial trolling and longlining (she was so good at it she caught a 14-foot great white shark while commercial halibut fishing); and, much to her grandchildren’s delight, was known to occasionally work as a substitute teacher and also worked in the cafeteria as a “lunch lady.”

Her final career was working for the Alaska Marine Highway System starting in July 1993 on the good ship Taku as “pots & pans” and working her way up to chief purser on the M/V Malaspina until her retirement 15 years later. Susie loved her job working on the ferry system as it fulfilled both her passion for helping people and being on the ocean.

Susie’s interests were building her remote island home, hunting, sport fishing, trapping (she trapped enough mink to have a custom-made fur parka and made many pieces of jewelry with the soft fur), abalone picking (the hard way, while trying to stay upright on kelp-covered rocks), beach-combing, gardening and volunteering at the White E.

She also enjoyed working with copper repousse, cake decorating (she made numerous wedding cakes for her children’s and grandchildren’s weddings), stained glass and poetry writing (her friend Kay Royce financed the publishing of her book “Poetry of an Alaskan Pioneer”).

She loved to dance, play the accordion, and for many years hosted the bagpipers who were annual visitors on Alaska Day. She also loved participating in the annual Sitka Christmas boat parade, along with her good friends Al and Signe Wilson, Ted Hunt, Joe and Bobbie Whitson and many others. One of her crowd-pleasing designs was a waving Santa, that graced the roof of the wastewater treatment plant for several years after the parade.

Susie is survived by her sister Fay Nelson of Sitka; and eight children; Valorie (Connor) Nelson, Tony (Barb) Sturm, Lyndene (Gary) Downie, Dawn (Randy) Gluth, Jeff (Tammy) Wheeler, Stella (Dan) Shockley, and Leslie Young all of Sitka, and Madeline (Keith) Rake of Lewiston, Idaho, as well as her red-headed stepchild, Christy O’Shaughnessy of Seattle, Washington.

Also surviving are many grandchildren (one of her favorite sayings was “you can never have too many grandchildren or strawberries”), including Marti Jones, Spencer, Cory and Brook Nelson all of Washington State, Kyle (Nadiia) Rice of St. Louis, Missouri, Kendra (Shane) Nicholson of Kodiak, Josh (Leanne) Sturm and James W. Sturm of Sitka, Jeremy (Amanda) Downie of Jacksonville, Florida, Jenna Downie of Lubbock, Texas, Gary Jr. (Koali) Downie of Sitka, Tiffany (Dave) Pearson of Sitka, Theresa (Kyle) Hampton of LaGrande, Oregon, Katherine (Josh) Johnson of Sitka, Emily (Rob) Baldwin of Kapolei, Hawaii, Julia (Trevor) Hyatt of Anchorage, Johanna (Alec) Gluth of Sitka, Jason (Caitlin) Koelling of Temple, Texas, Ashlee (Bryson) Morrow of Jefferson City, Missouri, Tally, Keegan, Casey, Abby and Jack Wheeler all of Sitka, Megan Mary (Chris) Radke of Lewiston, Idaho, Matthew (Casal) Hornaman and Trevor Hornaman of Sitka, Alex and Anthony Raphun of Molalla, Oregon, and Wayne and Jason Young of Sitka.

Forty-eight great-grandchildren and 5 great-great-grandchildren also survive her.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Marvin and Alpha Kinberg, her brothers Marvin and Tom Kinberg, her sister Rose Reed, her son-in-law Tom Young and her best friend, Signe Wilson.


A celebration of life will be held at a later time when her family can gather to spread her ashes on her beloved island. In lieu of flowers the family would suggest donations be made to the Parkinson’s Foundation.

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Alaska COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 10-26-21)

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 10:02 a.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Monday: 749

Total statewide – 130,482

Total (cumulative) deaths – 688

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 2,749

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

COVID in Sitka

The COVID alert rate for Sitka is “high,” based on 30 new resident COVID cases in the past 7 days, a rate of 351.99 per 100,000 population. Alert status will be high until the rate per thousand is below 100. Case statistics are as of Sunday.

New cases in Sitka – 4 

Cases in last 7 days – 30

Cumulative Sitka cases – 1,088

Cumulative non-resident cases – 102

Unique positive cumulative test results in Sitka, as of 10/22/21 – 1,210

Deceased (cumulative) – 5

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

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October 2001

Bart Meyer earned first place in the Sitka Sportsman’s Association’s annual Alaska Day Biathlon. He was followed by Jeremy McLaughlin, Paul Lashway, Greg Horton and Jack Ozment.

October 1971

The Alaska Day parade was one of the longest ... Alaska Airlines’float with a giant golden samovar and the New Archangel Dancers aboard won first place; the Sitka High band and drill team won second; the Pioneer Bar float won third, and honorable mentions went to the Coast Guard float and Mt. Edgecumbe High band.