Albert Kookesh Dies; Native Leader was 72


Albert Matthew Kookesh


Lifelong Angoon resident and former Alaska state senator Albert Matthew Kookesh, 72, left peacefully at his home on May 28, 2021, his 51st wedding anniversary. He was surrounded by family and loved ones. 

Albert was born Nov. 24, 1948, in Juneau, to Matthew Albert Kookesh of Angoon and Ramona Delores (Herrera) Kookesh, of Carrizozo, New Mexico.  He graduated from Mt. Edgecumbe High School in 1967, where he remains on the school’s basketball Hall of Fame. In 1972 he graduated from, and played basketball for, Alaska Methodist University (now Alaska Pacific University) and in 1977 earned his juris doctorate from the University of Washington School of Law.

Albert married Sally Marie Woods, of Manley Hot Springs, on May 28, 1970, in Angoon, where they returned to raise their family.  In his professional career, he worked for Kootznoowoo, Inc.; was elected to the Alaska Legislature, where he served in the House from 1997 to 2004 and the Senate from 2004 to 2012; and worked in the administrations of governors Tony Knowles and Bill Walker.

His public service was extensive. He was a member of the Sealaska Corp. board from 1976 until his passing, including as chair for 14 years; was on the Alaska Federation of Natives board as co-chair for 16 years; on the Alaska Native Brotherhood as Grand Camp president and as an executive committee member; was a trustee for the First Alaskans Institute; and a trustee for the Sealaska Heritage Institute. 

“No one even knows everything Albert has done for his community and shareholders. He’s dedicated his whole life to serving his home village of Angoon and the entire region.” Anthony Mallott,  of Sealaska, said.

In addition to his public service, Albert was known for his love of basketball, especially the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament, where he helped win 11 championships and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He also was known for his love of life as a fisherman; of hunting; his practice and protection of the traditional way of life, subsistence; his mentorship and wisdom; his jokes and “true stories”; and for his extreme love and devotion to his home village of Angoon and his family.

He so loved his time with his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. In his final days, he was so proud of his grandchildren for winning the regional high school 1A basketball tournament.

“Albert was a true Aan Yadí – noble person – and his leadership was felt everywhere,” Rosita Worl, Sealaska Heritage Institute, said.

Albert was Eagle of the Teikweidí (Brown Bear) clan, child of the L’eeneidí (Dog Salmon) clan. His Tlingit name was Kaasháan, and he also had the name Yikdahéen.

Albert is survived by his wife Sally; and his children, Elaine Jack and her husband Frank, Jaeleen Kookesh, Reanna Kookesh, Albert Kookesh III and his wife Shiann, Walter Kookesh and his wife Amanda, and Chenara Johnson and her husband Kyle.

Also surviving are his brothers Matthew Kookesh, and Gordon Kookesh (Lisa); his sisters Pauline Duncan (Al), Nellie Kookesh (Matsu), Martha Akagi, and Stella Estrada (Rocky); his uncle Flavio Herrera; his devoted nephew Edward “BeeBucks” Kookesh (Jeannette); his brothers- and sisters-in-law; many nieces and nephews; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his father, Matthew; his mother, Ramona; his brothers Floyd and Edward; his uncle Walter Soboleff; his aunt Mary Nava; his grandson Bentley; and dear friends Clarence Jackson, Byron Mallott, George “Chunky” Henniger, Herbie Bruce, Fred Hopkins, Ivan Gamble, and Gerald “Pooch” Gregory.

A memorial service will be held at the Kevin O’Brien Gymnasium, Angoon High School, in Angoon, 6 p.m. Friday, June 4. Burial will be in Killisnoo at noon, Saturday, June 5.

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At a Glance

(updated 3-14-2023)

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 12:15 pm Tuesday, March 14.

New cases as of Tuesday: 448

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 294,791

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,449

Case Rate per 100,000 – 61.60

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

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 46.90

Cases in last 7 days – 4

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,293

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






March 2003

Photo caption: Members of the newly formed Sitka Retail in Action Board have formed to promote  local businesses. The first event will be a street fair, “Spring Fever.” From left are Teri Egan, Kay McCarty,  Raphaelle Grangeon-Peters, Cathy Hanson, Bonnie Brenner, Joyce  Robertson and Tammy Thom.



March 1973

By calling Zenith 6000, Southeast Alaska residents now are able to contact Western Airlines reservations without charge to book flights anywhere in Western’s system. The service will continue until such time as the court case involving Southeast Alaska air service is settled.