Services Scheduled For Mary Irene Miller, 85


Mary Irene (Smith) Miller


Mary Irene (Smith) Miller was promoted to glory May 4, 2022, in Sitka. 

She was born July 25, 1936, to Sarah (Davis) and John C. Smith. Her Tlingit name was Shaaxaatk’í, of the Sitka L’uknax.ádi (Coho) clan from Kayaashka Hít, the Mother Coho/Platform House on Sitka’s Katlian Street. She was very proud to be the child of the Kaagwaantaan (Eagle/Wolf Clan) and grandchild of the Chookaneidí (Eagle/Porpoise) Clan.

Mary lived her full life in Sitka. She attended Mt. Edgecumbe High School and worked her first job processing fish on the Todd Cannery slime line. She also worked at Conway Dock, served at downtown restaurants, tended bar at American Legion Post 13, and worked at Alaska Laundry in Juneau before earning her G.E.D. and acquiring her Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor certifications.

She helped many Alaskans through her work at the Bill Brady Healing Center, also known as Alcohol Therapy Services (ATS) in Sitka. Mary taught her clients that she knew their journey, since she also was a recovering alcoholic and former heavy smoker. She quit drinking, quit smoking, and turned her life over to her Lord on October 2, 1977. In her later years, Mary was a night advocate at the Sitkans Against Family Violence shelter supporting victims of domestic violence. Giving back to her community was very important and enriching to her.

Mary was an active L’uknax.ádi (Coho) family member, often attending traditional Khoo.eex’ (Memorial Ceremony) cultural services, such as totem pole raising, canoe dedications, and Sealaska’s Celebration in Juneau.

She was a member of Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s Cultural Resources Committee.  She created her own regalia and those of her children and grandchildren. She was a big supporter of the Noow Tlein and Ghajaa Heen Dancers of Sitka.

She lived with her grandparents from age four to age eight, learning the Tlingit language as it was the only language spoken at home.  She spoke her language with her caregivers at the Pioneers Home up to her final days.

Mary was also a shareholder of Sealaska Corp., Shee Atik á Inc., and Huna Totem Corp.

A devoted United Pentecostal Church member, Mary often made her delicious lemon meringue pies for garage sales, birthdays, or other special functions. She worshipped at the church for over 40 years, sometimes playing piano for the church choir.  The family appreciates that Pastor Patrick Miller will officiate at her funeral service.

Mary loved Christmas time. Her Katlian Street home was lit and decorated by Thanksgiving, and stayed on and up through Russian Christmas. Her home holiday decorating earned her an Honorable Mention by the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce one year. All her grandchildren and great-grandchildren loved her Christmas spirit.

After moving to the Pioneers Home in 2017, Mary was cared for by a very caring team of third-floor nurses, CNAs, and building employees. She was loved by her Pioneers Home neighbors, and her nurses remember her as joking, smiling, forever working on her puzzles, and genuinely caring for each of them too. The family is grateful for the superior care and support given to her in her final years.

Mary’s primary doctor of over 20 years was Dr. John Baciocco at SEARHC, who had her respect as well as the family’s. He provided exceptional care through some difficult times. The family will always be grateful for Dr. B.

She was preceded in death by her parents, John C. Smith (Kaanaawu Tlein) and Sarah (Davis) James (Saankat’aa); stepfather Edward David James (Yaajindul.hein); brothers John Smith Jr.; Robert Smith; and William Eli “Buddy” Howard (Shaayi Eesh); and sons Elvin Eli Hess; and Eli James Phillip Biggs (Aankadaxtseen).

Mary is survived by her sisters Ann (Don) Armstrong (Soldotna), and Carolyn (Mike, deceased) Wichman (Kenai); brothers Walter Smith (Juneau), and Norman Smith (Hoonah); daughter Faleene (Bert) Worrell (Longview, Texas); and son Luis C. “Chuck” Miller (Sitka).

She also is survived by grandchildren Sharla (Richard III) Hayes, and their children Kyra, Richard IV, Aspen, Reilly, Rory, Lily, and Eli (Juneau); Eric Sele (Lolita Church) and their sons Kasen and Lucas (Juneau); Jay (Amber Glen) Miller and their son Emerson (Juneau); Michael (Bri) Miller and their children, Alina, Mary and Spencer (Battle Creek, MI); Edward (Carmen) Miller and their children Alonzo, Piper and Matthew (Juneau); Naomi Miller (Sitka); Marissa Osenga and her children Breezy and Mileena (Seward); and Gary deCrenza (Washington state).

Also surviving in Sitka is Mary’s special uncle and L’uknax.ádi Clan Leader Herman Davis Sr., who’s the brother of her mother.

Cultural services are scheduled for 5 p.m., Thursday, May 12, at the Sheet’ka Kwaan Naa Kahidi Community House at 200 Katlian Street. At about 9 p.m., she will be moved to lie in state at Kayaash Ka Hit, the Mother Coho or Platform House at 314 Katlian Street.

Funeral services will be at noon on Friday, May 13, at the ANB. Founders Hall at 235 Katlian Street, followed by a reception also at the ANB Hall. Burial will be at Sitka Memorial Park, at the foot of her parents’ graves.

Pallbearers will be Jay Miller, Michael Miller, Edward Miller, Richard Hayes III, Darrel “D.A.” Austin, Dale Lindstrom and K.L. Nielsen.

Honorary pallbearers are Alfreda Lang, Jessie Carlson, Stan Filler, Sr., Jim Button, Don Armstrong, Bert Worrell, John Howard, Paddy Hansen, Donny Garrity, Alfred Carlson, John Young, Ron Jams; and Kyle Young.

Eagle clan night watch includes Naomi Miller, Marissa Osenga, Julene Howard, Tammy Young, Jamie Bradley, Alfreda Lang, Nancy Douglas, Josephine Johnson, Ann Marie Johnson, and Margaret Haube.

The family may be contacted through Chuck Miller, 314 Katlian St, Sitka, AK 99835, email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Many family members are sadly unable to attend and may send electronic cash donations through VenMo: @Chuckwagon10, or PayPal: @Wagon25.

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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

Police blotter: Two juveniles who were seen throwing their belonging at each other were told to stop or face arrest. ... A woman was reported arguing with her husband and friends, all of whom agreed she had been drinking too much. ... A man said he thought a neighbor had his missing cat, but the neighbor showed police his cat and her six kittens. A watch will be kept for the missing cat.


May 2002

 There will not be a commercial herring spawn and help fishery in the Sitka area, Jim Parker, Fish & Game fisheries management biologist, announced.  There’s been good herring spawn but herring haven’t spawned in the macrocystis kelp beds.