Dr. Patricia L. McPherson, Former Sitkan, Dies at 52

Dr. Patricia Leeann McPherson

Dr. Patricia Leeann McPherson, who once lived in Sitka, passed away March 15, after bravely battling a devastating brain cancer for over two years. She was 52.

Patty first came to Alaska, from Colorado, in 1993, and enjoyed mountaineering, hiking, camping, snow machining, and other outdoor activities. 

When she was 33 she decided to go to medical school, at the University of Washington through the WWAMI program, and by age 40 she was in a five-year surgical residency in rural Tennessee. From there she decided to partner with the Indian Health Service and relocated to Oklahoma, where she served her fellow Quapaw Tribe members.

After her time in Oklahoma, she returned to Alaska, Sitka this time, to continue her surgical career in Indian Health/rural medicine. This magnificent location reignited her passion for Alaska’s wilderness, and she promptly bought a 20-foot skiff made for Alaska’s waters and spent her free time mastering her skills as a small boat captain while island hopping in Sitka Sound and beyond.

As she approached 50 she relocated to Sterling, Colorado, where she was embraced by the community and hospital.

Patty is survived by her partner, Tanya Smith; parents Tim and Zelma McMaster, sister Kelly McPherson, extended family members, and her “soul sister” of 40 years, Laura Buchanan.

No memorial is planned. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Musella Foundation in her honor, as Patty was contributing her genetics throughout her illness in hopes it would help in finding a cure. It was important to her to help those who receive this devastating diagnosis in the future.

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