SUMMER FLING – Erika Youngberg and one-year-old son Axel enjoy the light surf at Sandy Beach Saturday as temperatures climbed to 68 degrees under clear skies. The Youngbergs were among some 100 people sunbathing, splashing and swimming to deeper water before the weather turned to showers as was forecast for Sunday. (Sentinel Photo by Reber Stein)





Joan Vanderwerp


Services for Joan Elizabeth Vanderwerp have been scheduled 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, at St. Gregory’s Catholic Church. A reception will follow in the parish hall.

Joan died Aug. 18 of cancer. She was 66.

She was born Feb. 10, 1946, in Cleveland, Ohio, the oldest of eight children of Harry Lucas and Winifred (Mooney) Vanderwerp. She received a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Michigan, and a master’s in public accounting at Walsh College, in Detroit.

She lived in Sitka for about 21 years – off and on since August 1981 – and had worked as a bookkeeper-accountant for the City and Borough of Sitka, and as an adjunct professor at Sheldon Jackson College.

She married Robert Ellis June 7, 2002, at Sheldon Jackson College.

Family and friends were foremost in her life, and her other interests included philanthropy, travel and quilting. But much of her time was spent contributing to the community as a volunteer.

She was active with Brave Heart Volunteers; served on the Sitka Community Hospital Foundation Board; helped with the Paths Across Pacific conferences; was on the WhaleFest board; helped with Octoberfest; and was a member of the Sitka Historical Society, Sitka Conservation Society and Ocean Wave Quilters. She sang in the choir at St. Gregory’s Church, and was a hospitality minister.

“Joan was the consummate volunteer within her community,” her family said. “She was the very best friend she could be. She extended herself to all people in all situations. Her friends were her life.

“As a deeply spiritual person, God was a big presence in her life. Joan was the kindest, most generous, thoughtful person imaginable, and brought magic into the lives of her family and friends. She will be sorely missed by those who knew her.”

Joan was preceded in death by a brother, James Vanderwerp, and a brother-in-law, Anthony Wolocko.

She is survived by her husband, Robert Ellis of Sitka, and his children, son Carl and his wife Leslie Ellis, and daughter Jane Ellis-Peters, her husband John Peters and their daughter, Morgan, all of Portland, Ore.; her son Scott Gingrich, his wife Carla and their children, Patrick, Erin, Shawn, Alix and Gavin, all of Anchorage; son Matt Gingrich and his daughter Ariel, of Mashpee, Mass.; and daughter Jeanne MacPherson, her husband Chris MacPherson, and their children, Ryan and Colin, of West Hartford, Conn.

Also surviving are her siblings and their spouses, Maryann and George Macdonald, Sara Moran, Ann and Winston Ingalls, Tom and Fran Vanderwerp, Susan Wolocko, and Kathleen and Tom Clark; and sister-in-law Beth Vanderwerp.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the SAFV shelter of Sitka.



August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:


On March 30, 2020, the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff


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Alaska COVID-19 
At a Glance

(updated 6-21-21)

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 12:21 p.m. Monday.

New cases as of Sunday: 13

Total statewide – 68,112

Total (cumulative) deaths – 366

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 1,602

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

The City of Sitka posted the following update on COVID-19 cases in Sitka as of 5 p.m. Sunday.

Active cases in Sitka – 4

Hospitalizations (cumulative) in Sitka – 6

Cumulative Sitka cases – 390 (341 resident; 49 non-resident)

Cumulative recovered – 386

Deceased (cumulative) – 1

The local case data are from the City of Sitka website.

• • •


Sitka Vax Stats 

The State of Alaska DHSS reported Friday the following statistics on vaccinations for Sitka.

Partially vaccinated – 5,340 (72%)

Fully vaccinated – 4,967 (67%)

Total population (12+) – 7,385

Sitka has vaccinated fully vaccinated 77 percent of its senior population (1,478 total), age 65 and older. 

Vaccination data for the City and Borough of Sitka can be found online at:





June 2001

Sitka police and federal authorities are investigating a report three counterfeit $100 bills were passed at a Sitka jewelry store. “It’s difficult to solve it, if you don’t get a good description of them, especially if they are transient or tourists.” said SPD Lt. John Bocza.

June 1971

Photo caption: David Bruce, 10, caught this 64-pound king salmon Saturday fishing with his grandfather, Philip “Peewee” James near Olga Strait. The big fish was 46 inches long with a girth of 32 inches. David and his grandparents live at Mt. Edgecumbe.