Florence Ruth Schutte

Services for Florence Ruth Schutte, a longtime Sitka resident, will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, at Sitka Lutheran Church. Pastor Sandra Rudd will officiate.
A reception will follow at the Elks Lodge, hosted by Sitka Emblem Club.
Florence died Jan. 24 at the Sitka Pioneers Home. She was 86.
She was born March 27, 1926, to Edward and Florella (Curtis) Nelson in Monticello, Minn.  She was third of nine Nelson children.
Florence was raised during the Depression but that did not stop her family from being close and doing activities as a family.  Playing cards, board games, and visiting numerous aunts, uncles and cousins were highlights of a Depression-era country life.
    The family moved to Vancouver, Wash., in 1944 where she met a sailor, Wayne Phillips, a fisherman from Sitka.  They married and moved to Sitka in 1946, where Florence began her love affair with all things Sitka.  They fished on two boats, the Bonnie and the Florence. She loved commercial fishing and said, as hard as it was, it was easier than farming.
Florence missed her family and encouraged them to relocate to Sitka – and all but an older brother, Maurice, eventually did move here.
After her divorce from Wayne she met and married Marvin Schutte, who was doing construction at  the Alaska Pulp Mill.  Since his job in construction required a lot of moving, Florence had a “pre-nup” with Marvin promising her they would return to Sitka as soon as possible.  Marvin kept that promise and they did return in 1972.
Florence worked as a secretary at Alice Island Elementary School, where she was beloved by the teachers and pupils for her warmth and humor.
She retired in 1988, when Marvin became ill. He died in 1989.
Florence and widower Russell Betterton found each other and began a companionship that spanned more than 20 years, and they entered the Pioneers Home together in 2009.
Florence was active in many community groups: Pioneers of Alaska, Sons of Norway, Pioneers Home Auxiliary, a lifetime member of Emblem Club, Women of the Moose, Unitarian Fellowship and the Woman’s Club, to name a few.
She volunteered tirelessly over many years at the Senior Center and the Pioneers Home, where her caring and sense of fun were appreciated. She had some great stories told to her by the early pioneer residents.
She was the recipient of many awards for her volunteer work including Citizen of the Year from the Elks Lodge and the First Lady’s Volunteer Award for service to her community and Alaska from Susan Knowles, in 1997.
    Florence always carried a photo of Cross Mountain and she would corral tourists to tell them about Sitka and especially Cross Mountain.
    No story about Florence would be complete without mentioning her famous cinnamon rolls.  She would rise at 4 a.m. to start the rolls, and would share them everywhere.  Oh, how everyone loved those rolls!
Florence did pass on the recipe and the process to her niece Debby.  She watched Debby make them until satisfied that all was as it should be.
If you weren’t getting a cinnamon roll when you met Florence, chances are you would get a joke.  Florence loved humor and her repertoire of jokes was vast. Florence’s sense of humor got her, and many others, through some tough times.
Florence was preceded in death by her parents and six siblings:  Maurice, Agnes, Leonard, Louise Bagley, Allan, and Eleanor Bergwall.
Her brother Richard (Faye) Nelson of Sitka, sister Mary Allred of Vancouver, Wash., and loving companion and best friend Russell Betterton survive her.
Also mourning her loss are 20 nieces and nephews and their families.
The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to Brave Heart Volunteers, PO Box 6336, Sitka.

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At a Glance

(updated 5-25-22)

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 11:55 pm Wednesday, May 25.

New cases as of Wednesday: 1,911

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 251,425

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,252

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 3,776

Current Hospitalizations – 46

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

COVID in Sitka

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

Cases in last 7 days – 25

Cumulative Sitka cases – 2,658

Hospitalizations (to date) – 32

Deceased (cumulative) – 6

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.





May 2002


From Sitka’s Past by Robert DeArmond: May 14, 1878 – The steamer California brought a cannery crew to Sitka for one of the first two salmon canneries in Alaska. The cannery, located at Starrigavan, operated for only two seasons and was abandoned.

May 1972

 The work of four Sitka artists will be represented in the Ketchikan Arts and Crafts Guild Traveling Show. The artists are Alice Bergdoll, Linda Larsen, Marilyn Nevers and Clint Miller.