Doreen M. Kowalczewski Dies; Was Born in London

Doreen Mary Thurlow Kowalczewski

Doreen Mary Thurlow was born on May 5, 1926, in London, England. Her father, George Thurlow, was an engineer and her mother managed a commercial laundry.

Her mother had eight brothers and sisters so there were many cousins to play with. In fact, Doreen later said she never had to learn to make friends because she was always surrounded by family.

Doreen was 13 when World War II started. Most children her age were sent to the country for safety but Doreen chose to stay in London. She told stories about the bomb shelters and other realities of war time life, including taking food and blankets to the soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk who spent days in train cars parked on the railroad tracks near Doreen’s house.

Doreen’s education ended at 16. She had planned to go on to college but the war made that impossible. So she went to work for the BBC as a secretary. Because her typing was fast and accurate she was assigned to transcribe Winston Churchill’s speeches as he gave them; she was always proud of that.

At 18 she met a Polish Air Force officer named Witold Kowalczewski and they married shortly after the war ended. Over the next five years they had three children: Christina, Janet and Stephen. Witold decided that they should emigrate to Canada where he could get a better job. He traveled to Toronto to look for work and Doreen followed him a few months later with two toddlers and a newborn baby.

In 1956 the family moved to Inkster, a suburb of Detroit. Shortly after this Doreen and Witold divorced and the children remained with Doreen. She had been working as a secretary even before the divorce and continued now to work full time as an office manager for an insurance company.

Over the next three decades her work took her to New Jersey, New York, Michigan and finally Chicago, where she was involved in software development, first for the company she worked for, then with her own business.

In 1993, at the age of 67, she moved to Sitka, to help her son with his family. He was divorced and had two young children – Shannon and Joshua – to care for. A few years later they moved to Seattle where Doreen continued to live with them and care for the children while Steve worked.

In 2012 Doreen moved back to Sitka. Her daughter Chris and her husband had decided to retire there and they invited Doreen and Steve to join them. Doreen became active in the local Ocean Wave Quilt Guild and chaired the scholarship committee. She also participated in programs for the homeless and tutored young readers at the library. She enjoyed attending concerts, dance performances, and other cultural opportunities in Sitka. At the age of 93 she volunteered to work at the Pioneers Home gift shop, where she was older than many of the residents.

Doreen enjoyed her final years, living with her family and with her cats, needlework, and books.

She stayed in touch with her grandchildren and her brother in England. She also stayed in touch with the world, closely following the news right to the end.

Doreen was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer in the summer of 2020. Treatment options were limited by her age. Home healthcare services made it possible for her to remain comfortably at home and to be with her family at the end. She died peacefully on December 9, 2020.

Survivors include her daughter and son-in-law, Chris Kowalczewski and Bruce Gazaway, and her son, Stephen Kowalczewski, all of Sitka; and grandchildren Shannon Kowalczewski and Joshua Kowalczewski, and great-grandson Samuel McKeeman, all of Seattle; and brother Peter Thurlow of London.

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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 Friday: 2,512

Total statewide – 172,329

Total (cumulative) deaths – 955

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 3,337

Current Hospitalizations – 103

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

COVID in Sitka

The COVID alert rate for Sitka is “high,” based on 153 new COVID cases in the past 7 days. Case statistics are as of Sunday.

New cases in Sitka – 34

Cases in last 7 days – 153

Cumulative Sitka cases – 1,531

Deceased (cumulative) – 6

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





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..


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.