HONORED – Crew members pose with Rear Adm. Nathan A. Moore, commander, Coast Guard 17th District, after being presented Air Medals at Air Station Sitka, May 7. The aircrew received medals in recognition of the heroic actions taken to save the life of a fisherman adrift at sea Nov. 1, 2020. The Air Medal is awarded to individuals serving with the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement in aerial flight. Pictured are, from left, Brian McLaughlin, Justin Neal, Jon Orthman, Grant Roberts, Jimmy Schwader and Moore (Photo provided by U.S. Coast Guard)

Leona Riggs Dies in NM; Former Resident was 97

Leona (Eastham) Riggs

On Friday, March 26, 2021, Leona Riggs, loving wife and mother of three grown children, passed away at the age of 97, in Deming, New Mexico.

She was born Nov. 27, 1923, in Kenova, West Virginia, to Eli and Eva (Clarkson) Eastham, the 11th child in a family of 12.  On April 7, 1942, she married Lindsey Perry Riggs, her high school sweetheart, before he left for duty overseas in World War II.

After graduating from high school in 1943, while Lindsey was overseas, Leona was a “Rosie the Riveter” in Toledo, Ohio. After Lindsey returned at the end of the war, they had three children, and raised their family between West Virginia and California, and then finally in Sitka, Alaska.

In California, Leona worked for the Department of Navy as a keypunch operator, and in Alaska she worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a dorm matron at Mt. Edgecumbe High School. She later ran a home day care.   

In the early 1980s, she and Lindsey retired to Deming, where they enjoyed another 30 years together.  After Lindsey died, Leona lived with her daughter Sandy and son-in-law Dave in Deming. Her son Rick and his wife Christina lived nearby.

Leona was a strong Christian woman who never shied from sharing her faith in Christ with family and friends, as well as strangers. She loved to sing hymns in the car and in her living room. At the time of her death, she was a member of the Bethel Baptist Church in Deming.

Leona was an outgoing, active woman. She worked hard on her family’s farm from the time she was a young girl, was proud of her country roots, and didn’t put on airs about who she was.  She was a star pitcher on her high school softball team as a teen, which coincidently is what she was doing when Lindsey first saw her from the classroom window and exclaimed to his friend, “I’m going to marry those legs some day.”

She enjoyed camping with her family when they lived in California, and later did arts and crafts with a group of friends in Sitka. She liked to be busy, canning countless jars of tomatoes, green beans, and peaches in the summer, and crocheting incredibly beautiful afghans and other items during the winter months ... blessing many family members and friends over the years.

Leona loved, cherished, and was extremely proud of each of her grandchildren and the generations of grandchildren that followed. She was generous to those she saw with a need, as well as with friends and family. And she loved New Mexico.  In her later years she became an avid walker, which probably contributed to her longevity.  

Leona was preceded in death by her husband, Lindsey, both her parents, and all her siblings, and by her son Phil and son-in-law, Dave.

She is survived by her daughter, Sandra Adams Williams of Deming, son and daughter-in-law Rick and Chris Riggs of Deming, and daughter-in-law Sue Riggs, of Sitka.  She also is survived by eight grandchildren, Debbie (Loren) Thompson, Gus (Rachel) Adams, Parke Adams, Rich (Nicole) Riggs, Julie (Kevin) Wakley, Daphne (Jay) Tidwell, Amanda (Jim) Airo, and Ricky (Dawn) Riggs, as well as 17 great-grandchildren, and 12  great-great-grandchildren, as well as numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews in several generations, and her beloved and faithful Chihuahua dog Molly.

In life on this earth, Lindsey and Leona lived a humble life together, and loved one another unconditionally, with their love for one another only exceeded by their love for God, their family said. “While they always had very modest worldly resources, this never concerned them, as they were truly rich in Christ, and as such, their happiness knew no bounds. Their true legacy is the Christian way they lived their daily life, even when no one else was watching.”

Due to pandemic concerns, no services will be held at this time. Her church celebrated her by singing one of her favorites, “I’ll Fly Away, Sweet Jesus,” this past Sunday in her honor.  The family plans to have a gathering in Sitka at some time to spread her ashes together with Lindsey’s.

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 5-11-21)

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 11:15 a.m. Tuesday.

New cases as of Monday: 58

Total statewide – 66,407

Total (cumulative) deaths – 345

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,519

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. Monday.

Active cases in Sitka – 6

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 5

Cumulative Sitka cases – 369 (323 resident; 46 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 362

Deceased (cumulative) – 1

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

• • •


Sitka Vax Stats 

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

Partially vaccinated – 4,894 (70.43%)

Fully vaccinated – 4,502 (64.79%)

Total population (16+) –6,949

Sitka has vaccinated (with at least one dose) 1,243 (84.1%) 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





May 2001

Sitka Convention and Visitors Bureau is seeking volunteers to staff its information desks. Those interested in meeting thousands of visitors from all over the world are invited to contact Sandy or Michelle at SCVB.

May 1971

Sitka Police: Lorna Ann Sollars was cited for passing a stop sign. Gary Kuhnle was cited for passing a stop sign. Thomas Allen Sanford was cited for having an out-of-state license for more than 90 days.