Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s office building on the corner of  Siginaka Way and Katlian Street is pictured Tuesday. The building’s HVAC system was replaced using Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. The Supreme Court recently ruled that Alaska Native corporations are also eligible for CARES Act funding. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Roger DeWitt Higley Dies; Longtime Resident was 80

Roger DeWitt Higley


Beloved longtime Sitkan Roger DeWitt Higley passed away suddenly at his home in Sitka on April 5, 2021. He was 80.

Roger was born December 3, 1940, in Salt Lake City, Utah, the first of three children born to Robert DeWitt and Cornelia (née Baker Nash) Higley.

Roger graduated from Highland High School in Salt Lake City in 1959. Always a hard worker, he had a job as a bag boy, and then as a checker for Dan’s Food Town. After high school graduation, he went to work for Tracy Collins Bank & Trust, first as a bank messenger, and then as a teller at several of the bank’s branch offices.

In September 1962 Roger joined the U.S. Coast Guard. After completing boot camp in Alameda, California, the Coast Guard stationed him in Sitka, where he served on the C.G. buoy tender Sorrel as a seaman.

In the summer of 1964 Roger was transferred to the Coast Guard base near Long Beach, California. While there, he served as the messenger for the District Office, and later became the driver for the District Commander, Adm. Ned Sprow. While serving he received the Coast Guard Good Conduct Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal.

In 1966, Roger completed his four-year tour with the USCG with the goal to return to Sitka, which he did.

On arrival back to Sitka in October 1966, Roger went to work for Ray Woodruff at Sitka Engine and Equipment. In December of that year, he joined Arrowhead Transfer, where he worked for 32 years, retiring as Vice President of Administration and Comptroller in October 1998. During this time he worked closely with the company’s owner, Gordie Harang, and saw the company grow from a one-person office to seven busy offices throughout Southeast Alaska, with 110 employees.

Roger witnessed many changes in the transportation business. From Alaska Steamship’s WWII Liberty ships arriving every two weeks to weekly, and then twice-weekly arrivals of Alaska Marine Line barges. 

For 25 years Roger owned and operated Totem Travel, which first was located downtown on Lincoln Street, and then moved to the DMV building on Halibut Point Road. The travel agency closed in 2003.

On January 10, 1987, Roger married Cecelia (Ce) Ann Hodges. They enjoyed many years of traveling the world. They especially loved cruising. In 2015 they embarked on a 108-day World Cruise. On other cruises they saw polar bear in the Arctic, Norway, and took many trips to New Zealand (a favorite destination of the couple). They enjoyed river cruises in Russia, China and Europe.

Roger was very fond of trains, so some of their travels included railroading across Australia. Roger and Ce loved road trips and drove all over the USA visiting all the lower 48 states, seeing friends along the way. For many years they enjoyed wintering in Maui at their condo in Kihei.

Roger was passionate about serving his community, and volunteered many hours to local organizations and non-profits. He was an active member of the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce. When not traveling he never missed a weekly Chamber luncheon, which Ce attended along with him. In 2017 the Chamber presented Roger with its highest honor, the Cossack Cap Award, in recognition of his service to Sitka.

Roger was a founding member of the Sitka Economic Development Association (SEDA), and was made an honorary life-time board member. He continued to attend board meetings whenever in town.

A lover of classical music, Roger served on the board of the Sitka (Summer) Music Festival for 20 years, and was president of that board for eight years until he stepped down in 2005. 

Roger was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Cornelia Higley, his brother Robert DeWitt Higley, and sister Constance Ann Higley.

He is survived by his dear wife Ce, of Sitka. Also surviving are his sons Russel DeWitt (Pamela) Higley, of Tacoma, Washington, and Stanley (Maybelle) Filler Jr. of Sitka; and daughters Stephanie (Jim) Charlesworth of Sitka, and Angela Filler of Bend, Oregon.

Grandchildren are Rowen DeWitt Higley, Tacoma; Hannah Kenfield, Tacoma; Mitchell Edwards, Ellensburg, Washington; and Chatum Clark and Neva Rose Clark of Sitka. 

Roger is also survived by his extended family, of which he was very fond, in Tacoma and Spokane, Washington, Meridian, Idaho, and Salt Lake City.

Pallbearers are Gordie Harang, Roger Hames, Lloyd Swanson, Stanley Filler Jr., Russel Higley, Jim Charlesworth, Paul Haavig, Kim Hanson, Trevor Harang and Donald Lee.

In lieu of flowers, Roger himself asked for donations to the Sitka Music Festival (P.O. Box 3333); Sitkans Against Family Violence (P.O. Box 6136); or to a charity of their choice.

The family is planning a memorial service for Roger in June. His cremains will be interred at Sitka National Cemetery, with full USCG Military Honors, and under the flagpole at Arrowhead Transfer; Roger’s second home for 32 years. Details will be published in a future edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.

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 8-4-21)

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 11:27 a.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Tuesday: 323

Total statewide – 72,584

Total (cumulative) deaths – 385

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,738

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 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Active cases in Sitka – 123

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 37

Cumulative Sitka cases – 873 (797 resident; 76 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 748

Deceased (cumulative) – 2

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

• • •


Sitka Vax Stats 

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

Partially vaccinated – 5,682 (77%)

Fully vaccinated – 5,242 (71%)

Total population (12+) – 7,385

Sitka has vaccinated fully vaccinated 79 percent 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:





August 2001

The Assembly agreed Thursday to place ballot questions on cell phone usage, downtown traffic lights and a fire hall before the voters in the Oct. 2 municipal election. Assembly members emphasized the election results would be used as a rough guide, not a mandate, on policy issues.

August 1971

Sitka student Phillip R. Wyman is among new admissions for the fall at Washington State University.