John Sandor Dies at 95; Was Regional Forester

John Abraham Sandor


John Abraham Sandor, a former regional forester for the Tongass National Forest, passed away Aug. 23 in Sitka at age 95.

He was born in Buckley, Washington, on December 22, 1926, the youngest son of John and Mary Sandor, whose family of five sons and three daughters were all raised on a small ranch in Buckley.

John was an Army medic in World War II; received a bachelor’s degree in forestry from Washington State University in 1950, and a master’s of public administration degree from Harvard in 1959.

His Forest Service career began in 1953 when he came to Alaska to work on surveys of the Tongass National Forest. He held a succession of other posts with the Forest Service, culminating in 1976 when he returned to Juneau as Regional Forester.  He retired from the Forest Service in 1984.

John was appointed commissioner of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation during the Hickel administration, from 1990 to 1994. During that time he also was a member of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. 

He earned many accolades, awards and distinctions during his service to the community, state and country.  A few notable items:

He received the Alaska Federation of Native’s 1994 Denali Award for efforts to preserve Native values. He also received the Alaska Public Health Association’s Health Achievement Award for water-sanitation and clean air act initiatives. He collaborated with Canadian officials in British Columbia and Yukon Territory on conservation, water-sanitation, and hydro-electric issues. 

In 2007, he received the Gifford Pinchot Medal from the Society of American Foresters. This award recognizes an SAF member who has made outstanding contributions in the administration, practice, and professional development of North American Forestry.  He was named “Director Emeritus” of the First Things First  –  Alaska Foundation, and was a founding member of Juneau’s Gold Rush Days.  He is also a past recipient of both Citizen of the Year and  Lifetime Achievement Award from the Juneau Chamber of Commerce.

John was married to the love of his life, Lenore Barbat, on May 18, 1956, in Juneau.  John was an avid fan of Mozart,  travel, and rare books and maps.  He thrived on staying active in the community and was often seen attending Rotary, Masonic Lodge, Miners, and Chamber of Commerce events and was an active member of the Douglas Community United Methodist Church.

 After residing in Juneau for 40 years, John moved to the Sitka Pioneers Home with his wife, Lee, in 2017.

John was preceded in death by his parents, four older brothers (Charles, William, Henry, and Frank), and three sisters (Helen Carden, Pat Hoyle and Margaret Bryant), and his dear wife, Lenore.

He is survived by his oldest daughter (Mary Helen of Anchorage) and youngest daughter (Janet Freiman of Danville, California); his son-in-law, Harold Freiman; and the two grandsons he adored, (Ben and Jacob Freiman).

He also is survived by many beloved nieces and nephews and other relatives, most specifically in Washington State and Ohio.  

“We are exceedingly grateful to the Sitka Pioneer Home for the exceptional love and care they gave to John during the six years he was in residence,” his family said.

The family would welcome donations in John’s memory to the National Museum of Forest Service History.

In the coming months, a celebration of his life will be held in Juneau where John’s heart was most at home.  

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At a Glance

(updated 9-28-22)

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 12:15 pm Wednesday, September 28.

New cases as of Wednesday: 546

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 282,928

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,329

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 3,955

Case Rate per 100,000 – 74.91

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

COVID in Sitka

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

Case Rate per 100,000 – 117.30

Cases in last 7 days – 10

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,358

Hospitalizations (to date) – 29

Deceased (cumulative) – 7

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






September 2002

Photo caption: Bus drivers Derrell John and Sabrina Smith stand next to the new Community Ride buses at Crescent Harbor bus stop, which serves as a transfer point. The two public transportation buses will run two routes, one along Halibut Point Road, the other along Sawmill Creek Road. 


September 1972

 Photo caption: Bill Willis, the new owner-manager of the Dip’n’ Sip in the Triune Building serves up another ice cream cone for a pleased customer. Bill and his wife Dorothy purchased the business from JoAnne Harris. Along with the ice cream treats, sandwiches and soups will be added to the menu.