Karen L. Wegrzyn Dies; Former Sitkan Was 75

Karen Louise Wegrzyn

Longtime Alaska resident, Karen Louise Wegrzyn, 75, passed away Oct. 30, 2022, after a short battle with cancer.

Karen was born Jan. 28, 1947, in Yakima, Washington, to Edmond Earl Howard and Hazel Louise Howard. She was raised in Benton City, Washington, and graduated from Kiona Benton High in 1965. 

Karen and her family moved to Sitka in 1972 where she originally worked in banking. She found her “home” at Sitka Community College, where she worked in accounting.

In 1982 Karen and family moved to Anchorage where she worked at Anchorage Community College and later the University of Alaska, Anchorage. She worked at UAA as accounting manager until her retirement in 2005.  Karen was very beloved by her university family, and after retirement maintained many special friendships. 

After retirement from UAA Karen went to work helping her daughter Cindy and best friend Vic get their business, “Cindy and Vic’s R&R,” off the ground. Karen being the “accounting queen” was integral in keeping the money, billing, and all accounting systems in order. Karen loved her job and was so very proud of Cindy and Vicki for starting a company whose focus is on building friendships and encouraging people with disabilities to rise to their greatest and most independent selves. All the staff and participants at Cindy and Vic’s loved seeing Karen at the office, and would always ask about her dog Ruckee. 

Karen often could be found bragging about her two sons, Jeff and Tony. She was so very proud of the men they’ve grown up to be. Her older son Jeff is a lead water treatment operator out of Milne Point, Alaska, with Hilcorp. Her younger son Tony is an Alaska State Trooper out of Palmer. Along with being proud of their career choices, she was most proud of the fathers, husbands, and family men they’ve become. The sons also really cherished the visits, activities, memories, and close bond that they shared with their mom. 

Both before and after retirement,  Karen and her best friends, Susan and Gordon Harper, often could be found playing cards on Friday nights at establishments around town while enjoying a meal dining out. One time, they were pictured in an Anchorage Daily News story about the new Thai Kitchen as three fun-loving regulars enjoying a good game of cards, and great food. To this day, the owners, Ben and Sommay Kitchpanich, still ask about Karen, Susan and Gordon when the family pops in for a meal at Thai Kitchen.

Karen was a quality-over-quantity type of person when it came to friends. She always felt she’d rather have a few solid “you can always count on” type of friends. Charlotte Burrus and Sandy Sunde- Frank were two of her life-long friends who she stayed in touch with over the years. Susan Harper was Karen’s very best friend. After moving to Anchorage Susan, Gordon and Karen spent all their free time together.  Between going to movies, playing cards, and eating out, the family used to tease Gordon that Karen was his “other wife.” Karen also had a very close bond with her sister Sheri and brother-in-law Mark, who along with their grandson Jack, and their dogs traveled to see her often, her place was their home away from home. They had many good times barbecuing and hanging out over the years.

One of Karen’s greatest loves outside of her family were her dogs. She found and fell in love with the “doodle’s” when her dog Ruckee came into her life as a puppy. She and Ruckee had 13 fun frolicking years together. She always said that Ruckee was her “true love.”  After Ruckee made his way over the Rainbow Bridge, Karen was blessed to find Lena, a sweet two-year-old goldendoodle. Lena was a magnificent companion for Karen this past year and a half.  During a time in the world when many people were isolated, Karen was being loved up and licked regularly by frisky Lena. 

Karen is survived by her three children: daughter Cindy Hensley and Pat Lafleur; son Jeff and Teresa Whittle; and son Tony and Lindsay Wegrzyn.

Also surviving are five grandchildren, Justine, Ava and Mya, Camryn and Carly; brother Richard and Ginny Howard, sister Sheri and Mark Buggins, brother Brad Howard and Carol McCanse, brother Tim and Paula (Cookie) Howard; and many nieces,  nephews and cousins. 

Karen was preceded in death by her parents Edmond and Hazel Howard, her nephew Cory Mickelson, and her beloved dog Ruckee. 

Karen was never “in a hurry,” and thus the family will be keeping with her wishes and not having a celebration of life right away. There will be a celebration for friends in Anchorage in December, with time and place to be announced later. A party will be held this coming spring or early summer in Washington state where Karen and her family have property and Karen has requested to have her ashes spread. 

In the meantime, cards can be sent to Karen’s place, where the family is staying. She did love getting mail!  Those who don’t have the address, can email her daughter Cindy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or sons Tony at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Jeff at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Any donations in Karen’s name can be made to the Alaska SPCA, any dog rescue service, or the American Cancer Society. 

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At a Glance

(updated 11-29-22)

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 Tuesday, November 29.

New cases as of Tuesday: 414

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 286,561

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,399

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 4,195

Case Rate per 100,000 – 56.8

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 – 70.40

Cases in last 7 days – 6

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,173

Hospitalizations (to date) – 31

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






December 2002

 Alaska Native Sisterhood will hold a Christmas bazaar Dec. 7 at the ANB Hall. Isabella’s famous clam chowder and fry bread also will be for sale.



December 1972

Photo caption: Presbyterian women of today wear costumes from 1877-1899 at Sunday’s service. From left are Alice Postell, Dorothy Streit, Gladys Whitmore, Carrie Maura, Harriet Hannigan, Eugenie Williams, Esther Littlefield, Isabel Miller, Marilyn Ryan, Esther Billman, Beverly Scholz, Gertie Zeiger, Marcia Strand and Betty Stratton. (Photo by Martin Strand)