Cathy Cuenin, Former Sitkan, Passes Away in Washington

Cathy Cuenin


Cathy Cuenin, a longtime Alaska resident, passed away peacefully in her home in Suquamish, Washington, on April 21. Her husband Loren, their son, a niece and a good friend were by her side. 

Cathy was born July 13, 1949, in Danville, California.

She came to Sitka with her RN degree and her boat-loving husband in 1975. She began her work as a nurse at the Pioneers Home while living aboard their first home, the tugboat Madrona.

They traveled the waters of Southeast with various tow jobs, visited the villages with her public health work, played music with friends and explored the woods.

Their son AD was born in 1977. Much of his childhood was spent on the back of Cathy’s bike or on board their next home and work boat, the Sitka Spruce.  

In 1988 they moved to Juneau. Cathy’s love for Alaska deepened as she explored the mountain tops, skied the backcountry and made many lifelong friends. Her work as a hospice and school nurse was an expression of the compassion she had for her fellow humans. She was a mentor to many and attentive to all. 

In 1997, Cathy’s lung collapsed and her life changed. She was diagnosed with a rare women’s disease, LAM. She underwent a double lung transplant in 2004 and from there had a multitude of other health issues that go along with lung transplants. 

She appreciated her new lungs for 17 years, after hearing that five years was the expected. She faced her new life with humility, acceptance, curiosity, and love. She was a true inspiration to her family and friends as she not only faced her own issues, but found so many ways to offer help, advice and care to others. Her book, “The Way I Walk, from Tugboat to Transplant,” and her many poems have kept her spirit alive.

Cathy is survived by her parents, Robert and Virginia Cuenin, of Walnut Creek, California; her husband Loren Gerhard, of Suquamish; their son, AD, and his wife Elizabeth and their daughter Clara of Rochester, Minnesota; her siblings, Mary Chambers of Sitka,  and Judd Cuenin, Carol Mertens, Rob Cuenin and their spouses, all of California; and nieces and nephews Lisa and Paul Mertens, Krista Cuenin, Kyle and Taylor Cuenin, all of California, and Lucas and Maya Chambers of Sitka; and many friends who will miss her dearly.

“We all feel that we were blessed with bonus post-transplant years of Cathy’s goodness,” her family said.

In lieu of flowers, Cathy and Loren would appreciate a donation to Second Wind Lung Transplant Association. 

Login Form



At a Glance

(updated 5-18-22)

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 11:55 pm Wednesday, May 18.

New cases as of Wednesday: 1,675

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 249,522

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,252

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 3,762

Current Hospitalizations – 44

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

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "medium.'' Case statistics are as of Wednesday.

Cases in last 7 days – 54

Cumulative Sitka cases – 2,633

Hospitalizations (to date) – 32

Deceased (cumulative) – 6

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.





May 2002

Sitka’s state parks will remain open, thanks to an 11th-hour $80,000 appropriation approved by the state House Finance Committee, Rep. Peggy Wilson said. “It happened because everybody pulled together .... E-mails, letters, telephone calls came to Juneau from Sitka en masse,”she said. 

May 2002

 Laurence and Zelma Doig will leave the Sheldon Jackson campus this year after 30 years of service. Doig, in fact, has already been installed as skipper of the M/V Anna Jackman. Mrs. Doig, who has been librarian, will join her husband in Juneau at the end of May.