Amy Johnson Dies at 94; Was a Fisherman, Nurse

Longtime Sitka resident Amy Johnson passed away on August 5 at the age of 94, after a short stay at SEARHC.

Amy Johnson was born in Auburn, Washington, on July 4, 1928 and grew up on an Enumclaw farm which nurtured her love of nature and hard work. 

After graduating with a nursing degree from Virginia Mason Nursing School, she served as a combat nurse in the Korean War. After her military service ended, she moved to Sitka in 1956 to begin her career as a nurse in the tuberculosis ward at SEARHC. Amy met lifetime friends and her husband, best friend and fishing partner Moses Johnson. They married in 1959.

Amy Johnson. (Photo provided)

Amy began her commercial fishing career with her husband aboard the F/V Sockeye King in 1961.She continued to work in fisheries, including stints crabbing off Kruzof Island, trolling, longlining and eventually seining. Amy had a wealth of information about local areas and she was an avid reader of Alaska history books and was able to identify the most obscure place names while traveling on the boat and share bits of the history.

She had a special love for the West Chichagof wilderness area, and as her family was longlining Amy often requested to go ashore and explore with her family as the halibut sets were soaking. She also was an advocate for protecting those areas from old growth logging and was an early member of the Sitka Conservation Society. She followed local and national issues closely and the arrival of the Daily Sitka Sentinel and listening to KCAW local news was a highlight of the day.

She began her seining career in 1974, and was one of the first women in the Southeast seining industry to work on the deck. She stacked web, pursed, plunged as well as cooked and did a multitude of other tasks. Amy continued seining until she reluctantly retired at age 73 in 2001, but remained on shore support for the F/V Cloud Nine, as her son Moe and daughter Karen continued to fish. She was eager to hear the latest fish reports and could remember the strength and timing of salmon runs across Southeast Alaska.

Amy often said the most important things in her life were commercial fishing and her remote cabin at Columbia Pt. near Tenakee Springs. She built the cabin in the mid 1980’s with the help of her husband Moses, son Moses Johnson Jr., Dan Eberle and Clifford Edenshaw and it was the place that gave her the most joy. Amy made lifetime friendships with Tenakee residents Jan Eagle, Rachel Myron and Steve Lewis, Molly Kemp and Nick Olmsted and Vicki and John Wisenbaugh, all of whom she called her Tenakee family. While in her late eighties, Amy continued to visit her cabin with her daughter Karen and grandson Lance. Prior to that it was not unusual for her to spend 10 days alone there, with the company of friendly corvids and the welcome sounds of Raven Radio.

In Sitka, she was a regular morning walker at Totem Park and surrounding trails and had many friends, both human and canine. Amy loved to garden and her work brightened up Verstovia Avenue where her neighbors Kristi and Keith Grenier and Yvette and Steve Runion were generous with their help and companionship.

Amy spent her final days in the hospital that originally brought her to Sitka. Her family is eternally grateful for the kind and compassionate care she received. As a former nurse, Amy appreciated the high quality of care she received from 3rd floor staff as the warmth and concern for her comfort was exemplary.

Amy is survived by her children Moses Johnson, Karen Johnson and son Lance, Clarice Johnson and daughters Sienna and Muriel, all of Sitka; and Patricia Rodrigues and son Robert, Salinas, California.

In respect for Amy’s wishes, there will be no funeral service. Those who wish to make a contribution in her honor, the causes she cared most deeply about were the Sitka organizations that provide assistance to unhoused people, Sitkans Against Family Violence,  Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, Sitka Trailworks and the Chichagof Conservation Society, Box 621, Tenakee Springs, AK 99841. Amy felt passionately about the safety of the local fishing fleet and supported funding for a Sitka boat haulout.

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At a Glance

(updated 5-30-2023)

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 12:15 pm Tuesday, May 30.

New cases as of Tuesday: 165

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 298,078

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,468

Case Rate per 100,000 – 22.64

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

COVID in Sitka

The Sitka community level is now "Low.'' Case statistics are as of Tuesday.

Case Rate/100,000 – 58.70

Cases in last 7 days – 5

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,424

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






June 2003

Sitka Community Hospital board of directors has asked SEARHC to stop providing most health care services to non-beneficiary patients. “During the collaborative process SEARHC has said they’re happy to do anything they can do to help,” said SCH Administrator Bill Patten. “This is one of the things they can do – not provide services to non-beneficiaries.”



June 1973

What began 50 years ago in a Methodist parsonage in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, will be celebrated Sunday in Sitka. Les and Caroline Yaw’s four children invite the couple’s many, many friends to attend a golden wedding anniversary reception at the Centennial Building.