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)

Memorial to be Sept. 25 For Denise Jean Hodnett

Denise Jean Hodnett


Former Sitka resident Denise Jean Hodnett passed away unexpectedly on August 27, 2021, one day after her 66th birthday. She was visiting a daughter in Oklahoma at the time of her death. 

Denise was the middle daughter born to Eddielee and Betty Hodnett, in Springfield, Oregon, August 26, 1955. 

In 1964, her father took a job working for Alaska Pulp Corp. and the family moved to Sitka. Denise attended Sitka schools, graduating from Sitka High School in 1973. After high school, Denise worked miscellaneous jobs around Sitka, until leaving with her best friend, Suzan Bowen, on a cross country trip to Kentucky, where she lived and attended college.

In 1977, Denise returned to Sitka and started working at Alaska Pulp Corp., where she met Gary Olson. They were married on Dec. 30, 1978, in Sitka.  The following spring they welcomed their first daughter, Danielle, followed by their second daughter, Galadriel, in 1981. The family made their home in Sitka, enjoying camping, fishing, local sports, and traveling all while being surrounded by family and friends.

In 1987, Denise began her career with SEARHC Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital. She continued her career there for 29 years before retiring from the HR department. She enjoyed her work environment, and created lifelong friendships with many of the people she worked with.

After her divorce, Denise became involved with the Sitka Emblem Club and Sitka Elks Lodge. Sitka Emblem was a huge part of her life, even becoming Emblem president in 2008. She attended many conventions, meeting new Emblem friends across the country. Emblem allowed her to travel and see many new places. Though she moved to Washington, she remained heavily involved, and continued to attend State Conventions and Workshops. She leaves behind many Emblem Sisters across the state and country. Beyond Emblem Club, the Sitka Elks Lodge was near and dear to her heart, as she went through the chairs and became Exalted Ruler in 2012-2013. She was patriotic through and through.

In 2012, she was thrilled to be present and witness the birth of her first grandchild.  She also got to witness the birth of her third grandchild in April 2021. Along with her two daughters, her grandchildren, great niece and nephews, were the light of her life. She would never pass up a moment to facetime, send cards and gifts, or visit them.

Denise retired and moved to Port Townsend, Washington, in 2016, to live life on a farm. Here, she was near her mother and sister, Debbie. Being on a farm, she quickly adapted and learned how to work a riding mower, fix things and garden, and thoroughly enjoyed the slower paced life of a retiree. In 2018 she welcomed her latest fur baby, Cedar. He was her devoted companion and brought her much joy. A few months later, her sister Lani also moved to Washington, and all the Hodnett sisters were together again.

Denise always lived life to the fullest. Never holding back a hug, smile, an opportunity to travel, or an “I love you.” She cared about her community, and was always willing to pitch in at fundraisers, coaching young kids and being a good role model.

Denise was preceded in death by her father, Eddielee Hodnett, in-laws Peggy and Henry Moy, and brother-in-law, Mark Mikelski.

She leaves behind her mother, Betty; her daughters, Danielle (Max), and Galadriel (Ethorn), as well as daughters from another mother, AmyJo, Tatiana and Kamala; her two loving sisters Deborah (Bill), and Lani;  ex-husband, Gary Olson; sisters-in-law Twyla and Dawn; nieces Jamie, Melissa, and Billie Sue (Aaron); nephews Michael (Tracy), Brian, Eric, Nicolas, Michael and Gaelen; and the father of her grandson, Ricardo.  

Her grandchildren include Tabitha, Cody, Atlas, Reece, Alex and Braden. She also had special great-nephews and great-niece, Lincoln, Eddie and Hadley.

Numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins also survive.

A memorial service is scheduled 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25 at the Sitka Elks Lodge, with reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Sitka Emblem Club #142, P.O. Box 142, Sitka, Alaska 99835.

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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.