CHECKING IT OUT – Fia Turczynewycz, a visitor from Ohio, walks her dog,  Mani, past the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center this morning. Tlingit master carver Tommy Joseph’s newly completed yellow cedar Waas’go pole, pictured in the background, was moved out of the park’s carving shed Thursday to make room for Joseph’s latest project – carving a Tlingit canoe with the aid of an apprentice. Joseph’s Waas’go pole is the third version of the Haida pole in the past century – a reproduction of a reproduction made in the 1930s by George Benson, which is placed inside the visitor center. Rangers are working on approval for a location along the park’s trail system for the new pole. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Ruth L. Finsley, 97, Led Long, Adventurous Life

Ruth Loraine Finsley


Ruth Loraine Finsley, who moved to Sitka in 1960, died August 21 at the Sitka Pioneers Home, where she had resided for the past four years.  She was 97 and had lived a long, adventurous, good life.

Ruth was born February 26, 1924, in Havre, Montana, the daughter of William Clyde James and Florence Etta (Gradolf) James. She graduated from high school in Hillsboro, Oregon.

 On April 18, 1944, Ruth married Fred Henry Finsley, in Vancouver, Washington. They lived in Forest Grove, Oregon, until 1955, when they moved to Crescent City and Eureka, California.

In July 1960 the family moved to Sitka, and Ruth has lived here, with times in logging camps, ever since.

During her lifetime, Ruth often cooked for logging crews in the various remote logging camps where they resided. Her long-time professional career was first helping out and then taking over full responsibility and operation of the kitchen at Sheldon Jackson College. 

In May 1988, after more than two decades of service, SJC presented her with the Christian Citizenship award. She retired in 1989.

Throughout the years in Sitka, she has been an active member of the Sitka United Methodist Church. For years, Ruth was instrumental in fundraising events and became well known for her cinnamon rolls, seafood chowder and grilled teriyaki king salmon, sold during Alaska Day celebrations.

She LOVED fishing, which she did most of her free time, and ALWAYS fished the Sitka Salmon Derby.

Ruth was pre-deceased by her husband Fred H. Finsley and her daughters Janet Livingston and Christine Lee.

She is survived by her daughters Kathleen Finsley of Sitka, and Jean Thompson of Anacortes, Washington;  grandchildren JoAnn Burrett of Seattle, Washington, Hilary Poole of Juneau, Fred Dunlap of Anchorage, Travis Beauchamp of Everett, Washington, and Jessica (Beauchamp) Lew of West Linn, Oregon.

Twelve great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren also survive.

A schedule of services hasn’t been determined.

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Alaska COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 9-17-21)

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 10:47 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 875

Total statewide – 96,002

Total (cumulative) deaths – 454

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 2,207

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

COVID in Sitka

The COVID alert rate for Sitka is “high,” based on 14 new COVID cases in the past 7 days, a rate of 187.73 per 100,000 population. Alert status will be high until the rate per thousand is below 100. Case statistics are as of Thursday.

New cases in Sitka – 5

Cases in last 7 days – 16

Cumulative Sitka cases – 946

Positive cumulative test results in Sitka, as of 9/10/21 – 1,090

Deceased (cumulative) – 3

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

• • •


Sitka Vax Stats 

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

Partially vaccinated – 6,132 (83.03%)

Fully vaccinated – 5,991 (81.12%)

Total population (12+) – 7,385

Sitka has vaccinated fully vaccinated 89.85 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:





September 2001

Alaska Pacific Bank has opened an account for donations to be directed to the families of the World Trade Center attack of Sept. 11. The account has been opened with a $2,000 contribution from the bank and an anonymous donor.

September 1971

At the Sitka Historical Society’s meeting Sunday, Mrs. Esther Billman of Sheldon Jackson College presented a “surprise package” of recent donations to the Sheldon Jackson Museum by Mr. Hugh Brady, youngest son of former Territorial Gov. John Brady.