Tom David Conatser Dies In Sitka at the Age of 40

Tom David Conatser

On the morning of  December 20, 2022, Tom David Conatser of Sitka died at the age of 40.

Tom was born October 19, 1982, in Sitka to Ron and Karmon Conatser. The family moved to Port Townsend, Washington, where he graduated from Port Townsend High School in 2001.

During his younger years he spent the summers fishing with his family on the F/V Karmon Dee and F/V Ida Lee. He was a good hand but really shined with his infectious humor. One day after driving his Dad and Mom nuts with his endless talking, he disappeared to the back deck where they found him sitting on an ice chest with a sign hanging around his neck: “I will shut up for food.”

Or the time when he was around 10, after reading a detailed book on pirates he called his mom and sister “Serving Wenches” at the galley table. That did not go over well.

About 20 years ago, he moved from Port Townsend back to Sitka, where he worked at Seafood Producers Co-Op, Sitka Sound Seafoods, and various other places in Sitka, and went trolling and long-lining with his dad.

Tom was an avid reader of history. He loved visiting museums and historical places. Sitting in the pilot’s seat of Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose brought a smile that would blind you.

He looked forward to Hoonah Sound “Hunter Gatherer Trips” with his nephews, brother and dad.

He also was always up for hiking Indian River Trail with friends, and helping his dad with his crazy projects. Any day at the gun range, engaging in the shooting sports, rain or shine, was a day not wasted in Tom’s world.

Tom was preceded in death by his paternal grandfather Ralph Conatser, his paternal step-grandmother Helmi Conatser, and his uncle, Frank Kimball.

He is survived by his mother and father, Ron and Karmon Conatser of Rice, Washington; his brother Travis and sister Tamara, both of Sitka; maternal grandparents Ken and Shirley Kimball of Sitka; paternal grandmother Georgia Planck, Colville, Washington; and nieces, nephews, and cousins, including a very close cousin, Nick Eliason; and several aunts and uncles

A celebration of Tom’s life will be held in late spring or early summer, with the date to be posted on Facebook.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to the Salvation Army.

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At a Glance

(updated 1-31-2023)

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, January 31.

New cases as of Tuesday: 792

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 291,060

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,436

Case Rate per 100,000 – 108.66

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 – 70.4

Cases in last 7 days – 6

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,264

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






February 2003

By GIL TRUITT: It seems like only yesterday that I was aboard the Alaska Coastal Airlines Grumman Goose, taking off from Wrangell, headed for my hometown, Sitka, in February 1947. I was a student at Wrangell Institute at the time but that was quickly forgotten when the “Goose” pulled up on the Japonski Island ramp. The big student movement to Sitka from Wrangell had begun. The creation of Mt. Edgecumbe High School was under way.



February 1973

 This year’s theme for the Sitka High School girls third quarter challenge is “Beat the Pudgies.” ... Becoming a member guarantees taking off or readjusting inches, taking off excess pounds, developing muscle tone and losing unnecessary flab.