FISH TO FLY – Charter clients claim their fish boxes at the Rocky Gutierrez Airport on Wednesday. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson) 




Marti Barker Dies at 72; A Mom, Friend to Many

Martha (Marti) Sussan Barker


Martha (Marti) Sussan Barker, 72, passed away in the early morning May 24, 2021, in the Sitka Pioneers Home. 

Marti suffered from an autoimmune disorder, sarcoidosis which attacked her lungs. She had been on oxygen for several years and had moved into the Pioneers Home last July to get the care she needed. She passed restfully.

Marti was born Dec. 9, 1948, in Juneau, the daughter of Kathryn and Philip James. She was Kaagwaantaan, and a daughter of the Chookaneidi.Kathryn passed while Marti was very young. Raised by her auntie and uncle, Karl and Cecilia Greenwald, she lived in Hoonah during the early years of her life and later moved to Sitka to be with her father. She attended Baranof Elementary School, Annex Building High School, and Sheldon Jackson High School. She graduated in 1967, a member of SJHS’s last graduating class.

After graduation she went to Hoonah, and later moved to Juneau, where she gained employment with the Federal Highway Administration as a clerk. She went on to attend Kaiser Foundation School for Nursing in Oakland, California. In December 1970 she returned to Sitka and began working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In January 1980, when the BIA offices closed in Sitka, she transferred to the USDA Forest Service. She was a purchasing agent for District 17 (Southeast Alaska) until she retired in January 2004. 

During her time with the BIA she met the love of her life, Patrick H. Barker Sr. They were married Nov. 23, 1973. Their union created a very large family, with both sets of parents becoming fast friends. The two families, with Marti’s nine siblings and Pat’s five, were quickly joined at the hip. Family was Marti’s most precious treasure at this time that they lived on the “Island,” raising four children together. Their home was always open, and all knew the price was a hug as you were coming and going. With regular nightly neighborhood games of red rover, wiffle ball, and hide ’n’ seek, the Barker home was a hub for many. She cared for and counseled all who came through the doors.

After she transferred to the Forest Service, the family moved to the Sitka side and the open-door policy of her home continued. Her closest friends were her parents, in-laws and this large family that Pat’s and her marriage had created. From large dinners with the Primacio family and weekend card games (yes, all weekend) you could find parents, siblings, children and friends at the Barker household. If she wasn’t playing cards, she most likely could be found at the softball field. She played softball and volleyball with her husband and sister-in-law, Linda Olsen. Her jersey read “Ma Barker.”

She loved the outdoors and there were many very large family picnics with all the aunties, and hikes and sledding up Blue Lake road, and tons of time on the water. She loved fishing with her father, husband, sisters and sister- and brother-in-law. She participated in the Sitka Salmon derby every year. In 2006 she came in second place in the Seward Salmon Derby fishing with her younger brother David and his wife Renee.

Her home, and her heart, were always open to all. You couldn’t come or go without hearing “Where’s my hug?” She made sure everyone had a home for the holidays, with large family dinners prepared for 40 to 50 people every year. She wanted no one to be shy in her home, making sure everyone knew to grab what they wanted and speak up if they wanted to be heard. 

With such a large family, keeping everyone’s birthdays and anniversaries become a priority for her. Every year she produced a calendar that included hundreds of names, including birthdays and anniversaries. She had them printed and sent them to entire family. 

Photography was something else she enjoyed, from taking photos, collecting them, and making photo albums to share with others. This is something she and her father would do together. He was a WWII veteran, and photography was something he picked up during his service and carried forward through his life. Marti kept a trunk full of his old cameras, Polaroids, black and whites, reel style videos, and all the photos she had taken. If you grew up on the Island, she most likely had a picture of you.

Marti was preceded in death by her parents Philip John (Peewee) James and Elsie Nova James (Huntington, Bruce) of Sitka; siblings Robert Bruce of Nenana, Ada Wilkin of Pacific, Washington, Arlene Wolff of Granite Falls, Washington, Herbert Bruce of Angoon, and Marian Donthnier of Sitka; and in-laws Ernest and Delores Barker of Sitka.

 She is survived by her husband of 48 years, Patrick Henry Barker Sr.; sisters Virginia (Ginger) Palmer of Marysville, Washington, Shirley Yocum of Sitka, and Carol Goddard of Sitka; her brother David James (Renee) of Wasilla; and her children Denise Heckman (Carl) of Dundee, Oregon; Melanie Barker, Patrick Barker Jr. (Jay), and Michelle Barker of Sitka.

She also is survived by grandchildren including Matthew Paul Heckman, Caleb Patrick Barker, Ryan Hunter Harris, Marisa Lurrey Nelson, Ellie Nova Barker, Philip John James Barker, Jayden Patrick Barker; and great-grandchild Lyric Calyan Nelson and Baby Girl Harris (on the way).

Also surviving are nieces, nephews, cousins and little ones she claimed as her very own, and many very dear friends. Her last wishes were for her family to stay connected and remain close. She was a mother, auntie, nana, and friend to so many. “Beautiful Momma, we will carry it on!” her family said.

The family thanked the many who helped care for her in the last few years including SEARHC home health care, Janet Vidad, and the staff at the Sitka Pioneer Home. 

Her family will spread her ashes at a private memorial in DeGroff Bay, her very favorite place to go camping and fishing, especially with Linda and Eric Olsen, where they had big fires and listened to great music. 

 A potluck picnic will be held 4 p.m. June 20 to celebrate her life and love for family, friends and the outdoors. 

“We invite friends and family to bring a dish and memories to share. Please join us to celebrate her life at the Halibut Point Rec pavilion, the family said.

The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to SAIL (Southeast Alaska Independent Living) at

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


Login Form



Alaska COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 6-17-21)

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 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

New cases as of Tuesday: 26

Total statewide – 67,936

Total (cumulative) deaths – 366

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,595

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. Wednesday.

Active cases in Sitka – 2

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 6

Cumulative Sitka cases – 388 (339 resident; 49 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 386

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 – 5,318 (72%)

Fully vaccinated – 4,940 (66%)

Total population (12+) – 7,385

Sitka has vaccinated fully vaccinated 77 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:





June 2001

When it comes to selling lots in the Gavan subdivision, the city has to look at the long-term picture, says City Planning Director Wells Williams. Since the 32 city-owned lots in the 69-lot subdivision went on sale in 1997; only 12 have sold. “We’d certainly like to sell a lot more,” Williams said.

June 1971

Myron J.  Oen, a Sitka High science teacher, has been accepted as a participant in the Academic Year Institute for Physics Teachers at Wisconsin State University.