PAINTING WEATHER – Downtown Sitka is pictured from the vantage point of commercial painter Keith Fredrickson’s 60-foot man lift today. Fredrickson Painting Inc. was taking advantage of the partly sunny weather to get a coat of paint on the Sitka Hotel, foreground, today. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Anna D. Baggen Dies; Lifetime Sitkan was 97

Anna Dorthea (Thomsen) Baggen

Lifelong Sitkan Anna Dorthea (Thomsen) Baggen, passed away peacefully at her home on January 4, 2021, two days after her 97th birthday. 

Born on January 2, 1924, Anna was the first child of Adolph and Sophie Thomsen. Her life was challenging right from the start. A birth-defect would seriously hinder her ability to survive unless a surgery could be performed within her first few months of life. Her mother, a refugee from the war-torn region of what is now Belarus, traveled via steamship and train with her newborn daughter from Sitka to Chicago where a specialist had consented to perform the delicate and ground-breaking procedure. Sophie, who knew very little English, contracted pneumonia during the long ride in an unheated train, but heroically got Anna to their destination for a successful operation. 

Anna spent her early youth on Biorka Island where the family operated a fox farm. She would often recount incredible stories from those days. From believing her father had been lost to the stormy November seas while rowing a small boat all the way to Sitka only to have him return to their Biorka home many weeks later, to tales of her favorite pet fox absconding into the woods with her new doll, it was a childhood nearly impossible to imagine today, but as a member of a truly pioneering family, the isolated island living was quite normal for the time.

Anna was joined by her sister, Florence, in 1929, and her brother, Jurgen, in 1932. 

The family eventually moved to the “big city” of Sitka and Anna opened a dress shop, Ann’s Apparel, which she operated successfully for several years. An independent woman and small business owner, Anna was many decades ahead of her time. 

She married George Baggen in 1947. The couple were together until George’s death in 1972. They had four children: George, born in 1948, Ludwig “Louie” in 1950, Ann-Marie in 1952, and Martin “Marty” in 1959. 

The family business, Samson Tug and Barge, provided log-towing for the burgeoning timber operations in Southeast Alaska. With her husband skippering tugboats and “on the road” for weeks at a time, Anna was at home raising a family often as a single parent. That did not prevent her from contributing to the business, as she took care of the laundry needs for the small tugboat fleet and its crew. The basement floor of their Barlow Street home was often invisible because of the mounds of clothing, bedding, and towels emerging from an endless train of duffel bags. 

Anna’s devotion to family was never more evident than when her mother suffered a debilitating stroke. Anna turned her energies to that of a full-time caregiver with Sophie moving into the Barlow Street house to receive the care she needed. It was around this time, between 1970 and 1974, Anna suffered a series of losses with the deaths of her father, husband, and mother. 

In 1976, Anna met and married Melvin DeGroat and moved from her Barlow Street home to Cannon Island. Melvin and Anna enjoyed six loving years together until his death in 1982 after a brief illness. 

Anna was pleased that the Baggen family home on Barlow Street home remained in the family.  George and his wife Vicki (Unterwegner) moved to the home with their four children in 1978.  The couple lives there to this day.

Anna remarried in 1984. Her new husband, Thomas “Duke” DelaHunt was a close friend of George Baggen and had recently lost his wife to illness. It was a wonderful match and the pair shared 27 years together. Duke passed away in 2012. 

One of Anna’s great joys was to board a family boat and spend a summer’s day sailing throughout her old “neighborhood” of Biorka and the many other islands that were home to friends and neighbors. Within the last few years, many of the original buildings and structures could still be found, and to hear Anna recount stories of the families’ homes, the Goddard School House, and the adventures she experienced, was timeless. Especially vivid were the stories of her father building a 40-foot fishing boat on the Biorka beach (which still sails to this day), installing a Model-T engine as a light plant, her mother toiling to raise three children and tend to dozens of foxes and livestock, and the shenanigans she and her close friend Irene Peterson would do when she visited from Sitka. 

 Anna’s son Martin produced a video of his mother’s early life on Biorka Island. The script, written in Anna’s own words, was narrated by Martin.  The link is  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42ltm9YxeS0&feature=youtu.be  

Anna was preceded in death by her husbands George Baggen Jr., Melvin DeGroat, Duke Delahunt, her son Louie, her brother Jurgen, her sister Florence and her granddaughter Jessica Baggen.

She is survived by her daughter Ann-Marie and sons George (Vicki) and Marty, grandchildren Corella “Cory,” Melissa, Amanda (Jensen Yocum) and Reginald “Reggie” Baggen; and numerous great- and great-great-grandchildren.

A memorial service for Anna and Louie will be announced this Spring.

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 5-8-21)

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 11:50 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 114

Total statewide – 66,120

Total (cumulative) deaths – 343

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,508

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 5 p.m. Thursday.

Active cases in Sitka – 7

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 5

Cumulative Sitka cases – 367 (321 resident; 46 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 359

Deceased (cumulative) – 1

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

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Sitka Vax Stats 

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

Partially vaccinated – 4,898 (70.469%)

Fully vaccinated – 4,486 (64.56%)

Total population (16+) –6,949

Sitka has vaccinated (with at least one dose) 1,249 (84.51%) 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: https://bit.ly/3apStpb

 

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20 YEARS AGO
May 2001

Richard Nelson, Alaska writer and cultural anthropologist, will be speaker at the University of Alaska Southeast, Sitka Campus, commencement exercises at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School

50 YEARS AGO
May 1971

The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game announced today that the 100-ton herring quota in District 13, outside of the Sitka Sound area, has been harvested. The 750-ton quota for Sitka Sound was taken by April 7.

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