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Ketchikan: 2022 Year in Review


January 01, 2023

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - Ketchikan finally began to move out of the COVID era in 2022.  

Retail sales generally rebounded, if not quite to 2019 levels. Travel inside and outside resumed and many local events were in person for the first time in three years.  

The number of cruise passengers topped one million, with a little over 760,000 downtown and just under 250,000 in Ward Cove. Projections were for up to 1.5 million in 2023. The previous high was 1.3 million in 2019.  

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The first Ketchikan baby in 2022 was from Wrangell. Ryleigh Crowley was born at 3:30 am on Jan. 4 at the Ketchikan Medical Center to Tawney and Isabella Crowley.  

The 12-day Alaska Board of Fish meeting that had been expected to bring some 300 visitors to the First City in early January, was postponed because of travel issues that plagued the region. The meetings were eventually moved to Anchorage in March over the objects of residents in Southeast.  

Heavy snowfall the first two weeks of the month made driving difficult and many roads nearly impassible in Ketchikan and the rest of the region  

Residents were saddened to hear that former resident Tomas Butterfield was apparently killed by a great white shark in the waters of Morro Bay, California  

Another rockslide from the hill across from Wolfe Point shut down the North Tongass Highway on January 13. The area had three previous rockslides in the past two years. Eventually concrete barriers were put in place to keep rocks off the highway.  

Hyder was hit by one of the largest snowstorms in its history, when more than 36 inches of new snow was recorded on Jan. 10.  

The Inter-Island Ferry Authority celebrated in 20th anniversary on January 14.  

A Ketchikan jury found Tyler Cavanaugh, 24, guilty of second-degree murder in the July 17, 2020, beating death of Peter Jensen, 43. He was later sentenced to 30 years in prison, with 10 years suspended.  

The omicron virus hit Ketchikan hard in late January. Positives topped 350 in one week, the highest number of the pandemic. But only a handful of cases were serious enough for hospitalization.  

Ketchikan resident Julie Sande was named State Commerce Commissioner by Governor Mike Dunleavy.  

Two ferries, the Kennicott and the Hubbard, collided while one was maneuvering near the shipyard late in the month. No injuries were reported, but there was damage to both ships.  

Paige Bohlert and Brock Thomas were named homecoming queen and king at ceremonies at Ketchikan High School.  

Norman Skan, Melissa Johnson and Chas Edwardson were reelected to the Ketchikan Indian Community Tribal Council. Trixie Bennett was named the new chair of the council.  

The Kayhi Drama, Debate and Forensics team won the state title. Team members were: Carlo Cadiente, Divisha Jagtiani, Ila Smith, Kamryn Craig, Morgan Davis, Eddie Gomez, Jocelyn Cannon, Chloe Gosnell, Bella Kershaw, Peter Satya, Liam Urquhart, Emery Mattson, Braxton Zink, Lauren Olson, Madisen Lundamo, Jack Zink, Elloianne Greaves, Ethan Kershaw and coach David Mitchel.  


A fire in an apartment building next to the state office building caused significant damage to the three-story building and left three families without homes. There were no injuries.  

A break in the weather finally ended a nearly two month long cold and snow spell. More than four feet of snow was recorded between early December and early February and snow was on the ground for nearly 60 days.  

A Postal Service truck caught fire and burned up on Oyster Avenue while making its rounds.  

The Ketchikan school board investigated an incident in which racist actions were alleged against the Kayhi pep club during a game with Metlakatla. The board determined that the pep club had not intentionally meant to invoke the idea of “cowboys versus Indians” but that dressing in “country” gear had left that impression. The board investigation also determined that several members of the pep club had used “racist” words and sounds during the game.  The School Board apologized to Metlakatla as did the pep club and the Kayhi basketball team. The school board determined that while the students did not act intentionally, that the Kayhi administration should have recognized the situation and acted to prevent it.  

Michael Robbins, the administrator at the Nelson Island School in Toksook Bay, was named the permanent Ketchikan School District superintendent.  

There was a second house fire in February. This one damaged a house on Garden Lane. It was caused by a mattress being too close to a heater. There were no injuries.


With the COVID 19 pandemic reaching its two-year anniversary. Ketchikan had recorded a total of 3,638 cases, 41 hospitalizations and 21 deaths.  

The state began work on a year long project to improve the Herring Cove bridge. The $11 million project will widen the bridge and turned Herring Cove into a large traffic snarl just in time for the tourist season.  

Daniel Doty, a US Attorney in Fairbanks was appointed to replace William Carey who retired as a state Superior Court Judge in Ketchikan.  

Like all Alaskan residents, Ketchikan residents were shocked by the sudden death of long US Rep. Don Young, 88. Young died on his way to Ketchikan for one of his regular visits to the First City.  

Amanda Schoolland, the music teacher at Metlakatla junior high and high school, was honored as one of  Yamaha Band Corporations “40 under 40” teachers in the United States.  

Jeff Walls was named Ketchikan Police Chief. Walls had previously worked in New Orleans.  

The Ketchikan City Council approved naming the City Council Chambers after Lew Williams III and the City Hall after Karl Amylon. Both of whom passed away last year. The council later named the Waterfront Promenade after Len Laurance.  

The Ketchikan High School girls basketball team had a good showing in the state tournament, only losing to eventual champion Anchorage Christian and finishing third in the tourney. Janae Rhodes was named to the All-State team. The girls team had previously won the Region V title.  

The Metlakatla boys team finished second in Division 2A and the girls team finished 5th. The Klawock Chieftains girls team finished 2nd in Division 1A.  


Former Ketchikan actress and comedian Tallie Madel had a starring role in the movie “Everything Everywhere All At Once” that opened nationally in early April.  

Rick Hines was named Ketchikan Fire Chief. Hines was the clinical manager for Guardian Flight for several years.  

Houghtaling fifth grader Keely Nall’s design was the winner in a regional contest for the Division of Elections. The design, which features the Willow Ptarmigan, will be featured on the “I Voted” stickers handed out at the polls.  

Gwenna Richardson was named the commander of VFW Post 4352, the first female commander in the post’s history.  

Kyle Congdon and Janae Rhoads were named king and queen at the Kayhi senior prom.  

Petersburg High School principal Rick Dormer was named to be the new Ketchikan High School principal.


There was a spike in local COVID cases reported by the state mid-month. Most notably there were a dozen active cases reported at the Ketchikan Pioneer’s Home. Two additional local COVID related deaths, bringing the overall total to 23, were also recorded.  

Deb Davis of Ketchikan was named Commander of the American Legion Department of Alaska. Her husband Hunter Davis had previously been the Commander of the Department.  

For the first time ever, both Kayhi boys and girls soccer teams made the state tournament. The Kayhi girls softball team won the state division two softball championship.  

Ketchikan High School held graduation for 128 students. Chloe Gosnell was the valedictorian and Lauren Olson and Jenna Walker were the salutatorians. Alaska Department of Commerce Commissioner Julie Sande was the commencement speaker.


A dispute erupted over the Ketchikan Public Library holding a drag queen story hour in early June. Efforts to get the city council to cancel the story hour and to get the borough assembly to stop funding the library came to naught but some community members began efforts to put the borough funding of the library on the October ballot.  

Borough mayor Rodney Dial vetoed a borough committee decision to provide funds for the Ketchikan Pride Alliance. The borough assembly overrode Dial’s veto.  

A Ketchikan man, Jim Schenk, died on June 4, when his motorcycle collided with another vehicle on North Tongass Highway.  

Cmdr. Timothy Boettner became the new commander of the US Coast Guard Base Ketchikan, taking over the Cmdr. Arthur Dehnz. Dehnz is heading off to the Naval War College in Rhode Island.  

A subsidiary of the Ward Cove Dock Group announced it was purchasing the former Alaska ferry Malaspina and planned to permanently dock it in Ward Cove. The plans call for the ferry to be a museum and provide space for maritime training. It will also be used for housing for seasonal employees. The purchase price was $128,250.  

Twenty students graduated from Revilla Alternative High School in Ketchikan.  

The Prince of Wales Marathon was held for the first time in two years. Former Klawock resident Tonya Busse was the top female finisher in 3 hours 32 minutes and Matthew Boedecker of Michigan was the overall winner at 3 hours and 26 minutes.  

Kayhi student Thomas Rud was named athlete of the year in the Shooting Sports State Championship in Anchorage. Overall, the Ketchikan team won the state title in the team trap competition.  

Ketchikan’s Bill Moran stepped down after serving 16 years on the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation board of directors.  

Juneau attorney Katherine Lybrand was named to be the new Superior Court Judge in Ketchikan. She replaced Trevor Stephens who retired in May.  

Crystal Owen was named postmaster of the Ketchikan Post Office and Jessie Kvale was named postmaster of the Ward Cove Post Office.  

Pure and Wild won the 2022 Race to Alaska and collected $10,000. The team finished more than two days, and more than 200 miles, ahead of the rest of the field.  

The Alaska Marine Highway resumed ferry service to Prince Rupert in June, making the first trip from Ketchikan since 2019.  

Proving that old grudges die hard, the Ketchikan District 1 Republican Committee voted to censure former Governor Sarah Palin for her 2008 reversal of Ketchikan’s airport bridge project. Palin was one of several candidates to replace US Rep. Don Young who died earlier in the year.


Longtime local businesswoman Kay Sims was honored as the Grand Marshal in the July 4th parade.

The Ketchikan City Council voted to establish a higher sales tax of 5.5 percent during the summer months and a lower tax of 4 percent during the winter ones.  

A project overseen by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game removed more 11,500 pounds of marine debris from the beaches of Forrester Island, west of Prince of Wales.  


A Ketchikan family, Justin Breese and Becky King, filed suit against the school district because a posted list of “values” included “reverence for our creator.”  

A Ketchikan man was seriously injured when his motorcycle collided with a tour bus on South Tongass Highway. Two bus passengers had slight injuries.

The Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad was called into action to rescue people on Deer Mountain and Lunch Creek in two separate incidents. There were no serious injuries, in both cases the hikers had become lost.  

For the second year in a row, the Blueberry Festival was held out of doors. Parts of Main, Mission and Dock streets were blocked off for the more than 100 booths that took part. It was overcast, but only with a sprinkle or two of rain.  

A ruling by a federal judge called into question future Southeast Alaska troll king salmon fisheries. Judge Richard Jones ruled that the fishery potentially violates the endangered species act.  

The families of four people killed in a floatplane crash near Ketchikan in August of 2021 are suing Holland America lines, claiming that potential dangers in such flights was not advertised to potential passengers. Five passengers and the pilot died in the crash. Meanwhile, a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board into the crash noted that photographs taken by the passengers on the ill-fated flight showed that conditions were rapidly deteriorating as the plane took off from Ketchikan, flew to Misty Fjords and then began the return trip back to town.

Huna Totem announced plans to partner with the community of Klawock to build a small cruises hip dock and develop visitor industry infrastructure on Prince of Wales Island.  


Daniel Cox was the winner of the 2022 CHARR Silver Salmon Derby with a 15-pound Coho.  

Kayhi girls volleyball coach Kevin Johnson was suspended following an allegation that he had grabbed a player during a volleyball match in late August.  

Ketchikan Indian Community hired Ruby Steele, the chief executive of the Grand Canyon Resort Corporation, to be its new Ketchikan tribal administrator.

Several hundred people were in Ketchikan at mid-month to attend the Southeast Conference’s annual meeting.  It was the first in person SE Conference since 2019.  

The US Coast Guard commissioned a third Fast Response Cutter in Ketchikan, the USCG Douglas Denman. The Denman will be in Ketchikan the next couple of years until a facility in Sitka is built for it.  

Randy Estrin, 23, of Ketchikan, was named one of 11 American Indian College Fund ambassadors. Estrin is a student at Haskell University in Kansas.  

Merle Wolfe celebrated her 100th birthday, at the New Horizons’s Transitional Care Unit in Ketchikan.


Rodney Dial defeated Katie Parrott to win reelection as the borough mayor. Austin Otos and Glen Thompson were elected to the assembly. Voters narrowly turned down a proposal to end the non-area wide library tax and easily said no to a proposal to elect assemblymembers from districts rather than at large. Mark Flora, Lallette Kistler and Jack Finnegan were elected to the city council. City voters approved term limits for the city council. Tom Heutte and Melissa O’Bryan were elected to the school board.  

Ketchikan residents got a minor jolt on October 9 when many felt a 4.2 magnitude earthquake that was centered in the Misty Fjords some 47 miles south of town.

Patti Mackey announced her retirement after 30 years with the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau.  

More than 800 people attended the second annual Ketchikan Fil-Am Fest held at Kayhi. The guest speaker was US Rep. Nancy Peltola.  

Ketchikan High School held its first in-person Senior Carnival since 2019.  

Governor Dunleavy appointed Kris Pickrell as Ketchikan’s new District Court Judge. Pickrell has been the assistant district attorney in Ketchikan for the past few years. All three of Ketchikan;s superior and district court judges stepped down in 2022.  

Scanlon Gallery celebrated its 50th year of operation.  

Jackie Yates was named the new executive director of the Ketchikan Wellness Coalition.  

A fire in Bar Harbor led to the sinking of two boats but quick action by responders kept it from spreading to other boats in the harbor.  

The Regional Subsistence Council has agreed with a Ketchikan Indian Community proposal to redesignate Ketchikan as a “rural” community on subsistence issues. Final action on the proposal won’t be taken by the Federal Government until 2025.  


State Representative Dan Ortiz was reelected, narrowly defeating Borough Assembly member Jeremy Bynum. Bert Stedman was reelected to the State Senate.  

South Tongass Service got a new manager, Three Bears, a grocery chain from up north. Three Bears is also developing a full-sized grocery store for the Saxman Seaport.  

An 120-year-old totem pole returned to Kasaan. The pole had been carved around the turn of the century and was purchased for an exhibition in Los Angeles and then was at a museum in Colorado Springs for decades. The pole will be displayed in the Kasaan community center.  

Phoenix the humpback whale made a return to the downtown docks area for several weeks, delighting residents with his daytime bubble feeding.  

Former city council member Judy Zenge was named the Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year.  

Kayhi student Trevor Dash won the state championship in the 100-breastroke in Anchorage. It was the first Ketchikan state championship in swimming in more than a decade.  

Daniel Marsden Sr, Keolani Booth, Roger McKeehan, Kevin Hudson, Mathew Bergtold and Patricia Sanford were elected to the Metlakatla Indian Community town council.  

Local resident Rex Sowell, 32, died after falling off the dock near City Float in late November.  

Kayhi grad Kiera O’Brien was named to the Forbes magazine “30 Under 30” list of young leaders in the Energy: Powering for a More Sustainable Future” for 2023. O’Brien is a Harvard graduate who works in public policy for the France based TotalEnergies consortium.  

The Craig Panthers claimed the state Division 2A volleyball title over Tri-Valley.  

The Ketchikan City Council and the Community of Metlakatla reached a power sales agreement that will allow the construction of an undersea cable between Revilla and Annette Island that will also allow Metlakatla to receive higher speed internet in the future.  

The National Transportation Safety Board announced that it was proposing new rules for Flightseeing in the Ketchikan area after several fatal air crashes in recent years. The rules involve minimum visibility tightening and additional pilot weather training. Any actual changes will have to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.


The Ketchikan High School wrestling team once again dominated the regional championships with 10 wrestlers winning their divisions and a total of 17 wrestlers qualifying for the state championships.  

Most local retailers reported it was a back to normal holiday season with receipts generally up to pre pandemic levels.  

Fireworks added a bit of color to the annual Christmas Boat Parade. An addition that one hopes will carry forward.

Nationwide issues with plane travel caused many local families to adjust their holiday plans and more than a few people spent extra time in airports during the season  

Police Chief Jeff Walls was charged with assault following an incident at a local restaurant in September.  

The Kayhi girls basketball team won the Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic over Philomath of Oregon.


2021 (Additions to the 2021 Year in Review)

“Steve-o” Onstad, 73, longtime local truck driver, June 8  

Rosalind Ellis, 85, longtime Ketchikan teacher, Aug 9  

Raymond Cowan, 66. Former pulp mill Marine Superintendent, Oct. 19  

John Tolleth, 71, the “meat man” of Prince of Wales, Nov. 8  

Erika Van Slyke, 37, long time children’s therapist, Nov. 17  

Roy Trout, 80, lifelong area resident, Nov. 17  

Gary Haynes, 67, lifelong Ketchikan fisherman, Dec. 2  

Darrell Larsen, 72, former pulp mill worker and cab driver, Dec. 9  

Carol Johnson, 82, the “mom” of Pond Reef, Dec. 10  

Carl “Sopey” Soper Jr. 32, lifelong Ketchikan resident, Dec. 13  

Cara Thomson, 78, former director of Gateway Mental Health, Dec. 13  

Alexander McDonald, 81, Ketchikan resident, Dec 16  

Ellen Hudson Booth, 61, lifelong Metlakatla resident, Dec. 17  

Harvey Skan, 70, lifelong Ketchikan resident, Dec. 17  

Norman Miller, 57, lifelong area resident and commercial fisherman, Dec. 18  

Sunner Wills, 46, lifelong Ketchikan resident, Dec. 23  

Jim Wallin, 76. Five-decade Ketchikan resident and longtime ferry system employee, Dec. 22  

“Big Al” Turner, 77, lifelong Ketchikan resident, logger, charter fisherman and “valve guy,” Dec. 23  

Dorothy Johnson, 76, Tlingit elder and lifelong Ketchikan resident, Dec. 30  

Alfred “Tony” Fawcett, 59, lifelong Metlakatla fisherman. Dec. 31  


Maurice Hamby, 68, former longtime resident, Jan. 2  

Kathy Hewson, 72, longtime Ketchikan and Metlakatla resident, Jan. 3  

Heather Althorp, 55, longtime member of the Ketchikan Biker Chicks, Jan 4  

Bill Ferrell, 71, bagpiper and KPU employee, Jan. 4  

Dan Branch, 70, former Ketchikan attorney and writer, Jan. 5  

Gavin Charrier, 65, 35-year airport employee, Jan. 7  

Patricia Smith, 80, longtime Ketchikan bartender, Jan. 7  

Wally Perry, 90, longtime firefighter and ferry terminal manager, Jan.10  

Mary Hoyt, 84, longtime Ketchikan and Wrangell resident, ace bowler and skeet shooter, Jan. 11  

Gene Horne, 83, longtime Ketchikan pools director, Jan 11  

Josephine Burns, 74, longtime Ketchikan and Saxman resident, Jan. 13.  

Eva Palmer, 94, longtime Ketchikan resident, Jan. 14  

Howard McNeeley, 83, longtime Whale Pass resident, Jan 16  

Margaret Ortiz, 89, longtime White Cliff teacher and school board president, Jan. 17  

Gayle Dotson, 69, tour guide and lifelong resident, Jan. 19  

Carol Horne, 82, longtime Ketchikan resident, Jan. 20  

Carmella Alderson, 79, longtime emergency room nurse, Jan. 21  

Edward Littlefield, Sr, 75, lifelong fisherman and Metlakatla resident, Jan. 25  

Jean Howard, 91, lifelong Ketchikan resident, Jan. 31  

Jane Smith, 91, 70-year Ketchikan resident, Feb. 6  

Rose Bergeron Finley, 75, 64-year Ketchikan resident, Feb. 8  

Joseph “Sloppy Joe” Carl, 67, 40-year resident of Southern Southeast, Feb. 11  

Stevie Peavey, 83, long time Meyers Chuck resident, Feb. 13  

David Finley, 81, owner of Ketchikan Building Maintenance, Feb. 14  

Heather Lybrand Muench, 66, the mama bear of the Ketchikan Humane Society, Feb.15  

Dan Leask, 68, the most ‘rock solid’ drummer ever, Feb. 19  

George Houck, 79, repairman extraordinaire, Feb. 19  

Frank Hasibar, 80, lifelong fisherman and Ketchikan carpenter, Feb. 22  

Storm Milne, 22, lifelong Ketchikan resident, Feb. 28  

Cherry Nelson, 61, longtime Metlakatla resident, March 1  

Alan Vest, 71, lifelong Ketchikan resident, March 3  

Tyyne North, 57, longtime bartender at the Potlatch Bar, March 5  

Don Friedenbloom, 78, former Coastie and 40 year Ketchikan resident, March 5  

Sheldon Milne, 70, lifelong Metlakatla resident and basketball player, March 9  

Tina Hoyt Lockhart, 60, longtime resident, March 12  

Ron Barnes, 78, former, superintendent of Ketchikan Regional Youth Facility, March 14  

Steven Dunn, 67, 43-year resident, March 30  

Gordon Williams, 56, longtime local fisherman, April 1  

Ragenia Frazier Horner, 88, 30-year Ketchikan and Craig resident, April 4  

Wilma Mayo, 76, life-long resident and long-time state court clerk, April 5  

George Kla-hahsh Keegahn, 93, former Ketchikan resident, April 7  

“Bobbi” Treat, 71, Controller, Ketchikan Indian Health, April 14   

Judi Slajer, 80, former Ketchikan borough manager, April 21  

Charlotte “Shorty” McNeil/Moline, 63, lifelong area resident, April 26.  

Harry Hopkins Romero, 68, longtime Ketchikan resident, April 27  

Jean Stack, 70, made national news when an eagle crashed through her window, May 2  

Dean Davis, 54, longtime Ketchikan resident, May 5  

Ramon Sepulveda, 64, Asylum employee, May 11  

Larry Lyon, 64, 20-year Ketchikan resident, May 15  

Jodi Russell, 63, Ketchikan USFS worker, May 17  

Marie Yeltatzie Abbott, 81, lifelong area resident, May 24  

Phillip McElroy, 69, longtime pulp mill worker, May 26  

Darryl Williams, 83, longtime local “pipe” master, May 28  

Riekie Govaars, 83, former Ketchikan Salvation Army officer, May 31  

Jim Schenk, 63, longtime local electrician, June 4  

Rodger Amundson, 68, lifelong Ketchikan resident, June 7  

Alfred Charles, 58, a longtime Klawock fisherman, June 17  

Dave Rosendin, 69, longtime Ketchikan lawyer and musician, June 17  

Doris “Jean” Standerfer, 84, longtime surgical nurse, June 17  

Rachel Bowman, 38, longtime Ketchikan swim instructor, June 20  

Johnny Johnston, 28, longtime Ketchikan resident, June 23  

Debi Sims-Watkins, 61, former Ketchikan resident, June 26  

Denny Ann Terry, 78, 43 year Ketchikan resident, July 1  

Kay Loesch, 86, former Ketchikan resident, July 1  

Carisia Diaz, 55, Ketchikan resident, July 3  

Thomas Fisher, Jr. 81, longtime carpenter, July 4  

Barbara Hassell, 93, longtime resident, July 6  

Brett Mackie, 38, lifelong Ketchikan resident and carpenter, July 6  

Eugene Topping, 94, 60 year resident and former mill worker and police officer, July 7  

Bev Zaugg, 92, Lifelong Hyder and Ketchikan resident, July 8  

Arne Halvarson, 82, former pastor of the Clover Pass Community Church, July 13  

Joan “Jody” Aegerter, 92, 70+ year resident of Ketchikan, July 15  

Ron Branda, 67, lifelong Ketchikan resident, July 17  

Loyd Wolfe, 76, former ferry worker and 50 year resident, July 25  

Maureen Jenne, 72, former Ketchikan resident, July 26  

Thomas Dixon, 76, longtime Viking Lumber shovel operator, July 27  

Jenny Widmyer Wilks, 63, longtime resident of Ketchikan and Edna Bay, July 30  

Michael Davis, 52, longtime resident, July 22  

Phyllis Henrickson, 89, former longtime resident, Aug. 4  

Odeena “Dee” Jensen Strange, 101, former Ketchikan resident and longtime teacher, Aug. 8  

Gilbert Romero, 67, long time state ferry employee, Aug. 9  

Wayne Hewson, 69, Tsimpshian master carver and lifelong Metlakatla resident, Aug, 24  

Barbara Hodgman, 96, longtime former Ketchikan resident, Aug. 28  

Bonnie Rose Kristovich, 59, lifelong resident and Biker Chick, Aug. 31  

Delbert Hayward, 85, former Metlakatla fisherman and boat builder, Aug 31  

Erika Decker, 85, longtime Prince of Wales and Ketchikan resident, Sept. 1  

Mildred “Mili” Rauwolf, 81, longtime former Ketchikan resident, Sept. 2  

Holly Jackson Jensen, 48, longtime Ketchikan and Kake resident, Sept. 10  

Michele Kupers, 59, longtime tourism industry worker, Sept. 16  

Patricia Volpe, 58, 45-year Ketchikan resident, Sept. 21  

Betty Wilson, 95, longtime Ketchikan resident and community activist, Sept. 23  

Kim Straight, 68, longtime Thorne Bay resident, Sept. 26  

Roderick McLeod, 75, longtime fisherman and pulp mill worker, Sept. 29  

Janelle Sands, 70, Ketchikan resident, Oct. 2  

Kenneth Klein, 82, former teacher and charter boat operator in Thorne Bay and Ketchikan, Oct 10  

James Van Horn, 84, former Ketchikan borough assembly member, city councilmember and veterans advocate, Oct. 16  

Charles Teal Jr., 68, long time heavy equipment operator, Oct. 21  

Ron Gelbrich, 73, longtime forestry manager in Ketchikan and Wrangell, Oct. 25  

Roland Stekl, 95, former Kayhi principal and school superintendent, Oct. 26  

'Ralph Jackson (Ghunya), 48, longtime Saxman resident, Oct. 28  

Marilyn Swaim Wright, 84, longtime Thorne Bay and Ketchikan resident, Oct. 31  

Jimmy Widmyer, 72, longtime area fisherman, Nov. 1  

Thomas Thrush, 60, longtime Coast Guardsman who could fix anything, Nov. 1  

Nancy Haldane, 91, Haida language teacher Nov. 3  

Doo “Dorney” Mullins, 77, longtime Marine Highway bos’n mate, Nov. 4  

Brian Bottleson, 55, Ketchikan resident, Nov. 5

Georgi Zamora Caston, 52, former Ketchikan resident, Nov. 11  

Liz Lybrand, 83, piano, crossword and cribbage aficionado, Nov. 19  

Arlene Pickrell, 89, 60 year Ketchikan resident, Nov. 20  

Jeri Scudero, 37, lifelong Ketchikan resident, Nov. 24  

Tina Makua, 65, lifelong Ketchikan resident, Nov. 24  

Ramona Odell, 91, longtime banker at NBA, Nov. 26  

Johny Gilson, 80, longtime area pilot, fisherman, and millwright, Nov. 27  

Fred Paddock, 70, Ketchikan resident, Nov. 28  

Marcella Milton, 60, lifelong Metlakatla resident, Nov. 28  

Rupert Henry III, 77, former borough appraiser and firefighter, Nov. 30  

Martha Jackson Denny (Shawat X’e Gaakaa), 80, longtime Ketchikan resident, Dec. 1  

Isabell Ecklund Eaton Banhart, 83, lifelong Ketchikan resident, Dec. 3  

Melissa Miller, 67, potentate of pasteup at the Ketchikan Daily News, Dec. 10  

Tony Guthrie, 39, longtime Saxman resident, Dec. 16  

Clifford Gardner, 95, fisherman, logger, owner of the Meyers Chuck Lodge, Dec. 17  


January 1 was a “dig out” day in Ketchikan after a New Year’s Eve snowfall dumped more than 12 inches on the First City. Another large storm hit on January 8 with more than a foot of snow, but it quickly turned to rain and Ketchikan’s month-long freeze (from early December) was finally over (sort of). There were also heavy winds, but no place was windier than the Klawock Airport which registered a 115-mph gust on Jan. 9. Temperatures dipped into the single figures including a low of six degrees on January 6. Meanwhile, snow and ice returned and would glaze Ketchikan until the first week of February when nearly 4 inches of rain landed on February 3, setting an all-time record for that day and finally, finally, finally ending the two-month Ketchikan Deep Freeze of 2021-2022.

Natch, winter was not quite ready to quit. There were snowfalls as late as April 2. And late in March there was an unusual storm that walloped Ketchikan one evening with more than two inches of hail and two of the largest thunderclaps that anyone ever remembers in the city. One of the lightning strikes hit the KTKN tower downtown.

A spate of good weather hit the first city the last week of June, lasting to July 4 in which temperatures were in the upper 70s and low 80s for more than a week. There was another bright spot as temps soared into the upper 70s the last week in July. Ketchikan did not get its somewhat usual spate of 80s degree weather the first week of August, but it did get eight consecutive days of 70-degree weather towards the middle of the month. The high temp for the year was 78 on two different days in July.

Ketchikan enjoyed a slightly drier Fall than normal, punctuated by a two-day touch of Indian Summer in mid-October in which the temps neared 70 degrees. They were naturally followed by a downpour that brought five inches of rain to the First City in two days.

Termination Dust was first spotted on Deer Mountain on Oct. 16.

The First Snow in town was November 9, just about an inch or so.

The “annual” Thanksgiving Day storm arrived a day early with more than three inches of rain and wind gusts up to 70 arriving on November 23. Naturally, everyone’s last-minute travel plans were disrupted.

Snow arrived a little more permanently in early December. A cold snap with temperatures in the single digits froze things up pretty good the week before Christmas. Of course, it rained heavily the day before Christmas preventing a white Christmas.

The coldest days of the year was Dec. 21, when the temp dipped to 3 degrees. That was the coldest December 21 ever in Ketchikan, breaking the record of 6 degrees in 1933. For the record, January 23, 1916 was the coldest day ever in Ketchikan at -7 degrees.

Columns by Dave Kiffer

Historical Feature Stories by Dave Kiffer


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2022

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