Joleen Caspersen Dies; Was Lifelong Alaskan

Joleen Lisa Caspersen

Joleen Lisa Caspersen, 64, died peacefully at home in Anchorage on February 21.

Joleen was born in Ketchikan April 11, 1958, to Donald A. Caspersen and Josephine (Kristovich) Ghormley. She grew up in Southeast Alaska, splitting her time between Ketchikan and Metlakatla.

Growing up, she gained a love of running, being on the water, and harvesting Native foods.

She graduated from Ketchikan High School in 1976, and attended Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, earning a degree in liberal arts. She also was a member of the hiking club.

While attending SJC, she met her first husband, William Johnson. She was eight months pregnant with her “favorite oldest son” Chad Johnson in 1980, when she was able to hike to the summit of Arrowhead Mountain, and made the cover of Alaska Magazine. 

Joleen went on to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting, and in 1982 had her first daughter, Kimberly Johnson.

She later moved to Nome, where she worked at the Nome Hospital as an accountant. In 1986 she had her second daughter, Kristine Johnson. While living in Nome, Joleen, a lifelong Iditarod  race “superfan,” loved watching all the mushers cross the finish line. 

Joleen, determined to have a unique birth story for each one of her children, traveled to Kodiak  in 1988 for the birth of her fourth child, Todd Johnson. All four of her children were born in different cities throughout The Last Frontier.

Joleen and family later returned to Sitka, where she worked at the University of Alaska Southeast in the accounting department.

Early in life, Joleen also found her love of hunting, camping, and fishing.

 In 2000 Joleen met her future husband Louis Dunlap and together they shared many adventures. Both loved going out on the boat, camping, spending long weekends at Clam Gulch, and much more. Joleen and Louis were happily together for nearly two decades. She was widowed in 2019.

 Joleen was immensely proud of her children and eight grandchildren. She always encouraged them to do well in school and would reward her grandchildren for outstanding academic achievements with cash coated in her favorite perfume.

Survivors include her mother, Josephine Gorhmley; brothers James Caspersen, Jerry Caspersen, William Ghormley, and Paul Delaurente; and sisters Jann Caspersen, Cicely Ghormley, Debi Bay, Keri Casperson, Tammy Caspersen and Kelly Caspersen. 

Joleen is survived by her four children, three of whom went on to serve in the United States Marine Corps.

The children and their families are Chad (MaRanda) Johnson and their three children, Jaylen, Jaycen and MaLania; Kimberly (Johnson) Frey and her three children, Kiya Frey, Kassandra Williamson, and Parker Henry; Kristine (Chris) Brady and their two children, Colt and Kennedy; and her “favorite youngest son,” Todd Johnson.

She was preceded in death by her father Donald Caspersen, her husband Louis Dunlap, brother Tom-Tom, brother-in-law Karn Caspersen, and Robert Dexter, also known as “Uncle Bobby.”

The family expressed thanks to all well-wishers. “We appreciate Joleen’s friends and wonderful neighbors Corky, Roy, Brian, and Connie, along with her co-workers,” they said.

An invitation has been extended to all her family, friends, and acquaintances to an informal celebration of her life 10 a.m. to noon on Sunday, March 5, at the Janssen – Evergreen Memorial Chapel, 737 E  Street Anchorage, Alaska 99501.

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At a Glance

(updated 3-14-2023)

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, March 14.

New cases as of Tuesday: 448

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 294,791

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,449

Case Rate per 100,000 – 61.60

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 – 46.90

Cases in last 7 days – 4

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,293

Deceased (cumulative) – 10

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






March 2003

Photo caption: Members of the newly formed Sitka Retail in Action Board have formed to promote  local businesses. The first event will be a street fair, “Spring Fever.” From left are Teri Egan, Kay McCarty,  Raphaelle Grangeon-Peters, Cathy Hanson, Bonnie Brenner, Joyce  Robertson and Tammy Thom.



March 1973

By calling Zenith 6000, Southeast Alaska residents now are able to contact Western Airlines reservations without charge to book flights anywhere in Western’s system. The service will continue until such time as the court case involving Southeast Alaska air service is settled.