Rhonda Whitmore Dies; Was a Former Resident

Rhonda Marie (Howard) Whitmore

Former Sitka resident Rhonda Marie (Howard) Whitmore, 56, passed on Wednesday, May 3, after a short but courageous battle with cancer.

Her husband, Mike Whitmore, and longtime friend, Karyn Grimm, were at her side till the very end.

Rhonda also had numerous family members and friends come to her Thorne Bay home to comfort and give their love. 

Rhonda was born March 10, 1967, in Bellingham, Washington, to Karen (Sulser) and Ray Howard Sr. When she was five, her family moved to Sitka. She graduated from Sitka High School and shortly after worked as a waitress at the Channel Club. 

In 1989, she enlisted in the U.S. Army, and served for three years at Fort Richardson, Anchorage. Upon her return, she worked for the U.S. Forest Service remotely in New Mexico, Craig, Alaska; Idaho; and Thorne Bay, Alaska, with a 26-year tenure until she fell ill.

While in Craig, she met the love of her life, Mike Whitmore, and they married three years later in 2012. They moved to Idaho to care for Rhonda’s mother and then moved back to Alaska after her mother’s passing. 

Like her mother, Rhonda was very talented. She, too, was a master baker. Every year she canned fruits and vegetables harvested from her garden. She also enjoyed getting outdoors whether it be riding the Harleys with her husband Mike, or boating, fishing, and camping. Indoors ,she enjoyed quilting, beading, and snuggling with her hubby and dogs in front of the fireplace. 

She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Harry and Kate Sulser, and Charles and Virginia Beardsley; her mother, Karen Howard; her aunt Susan Frank; cousins Ryan Allen, Shane Frank, Shawn Tisher, and Jacoby and Mitchell Sulser. 

She is survived by her husband, Mike Whitmore, of Thorne Bay; her father, Ray Howard Sr., of Danville, Washington; brother Ray Howard Jr. (and Emily) of Juneau.

 Although she had no children of her own, she took in Ray Whitmore to call her own. 

Her aunts and uncles are Vickie (and Alan) Slade of Ketchikan; Linda (and Rick) Heim of Sitka; Sandy (and Dan) Baird of Sitka; Scott Sulser of Sitka; David (and Aftyn) Sulser of Sitka; Robert (and Mary) Howard of Ferndale, Washington; and Summer (and Larry) Willey of Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

Her cousins include Shannon Tisher of Juneau; Chris Heim of Sitka; Janelle Heim of Sitka; Brehanna (and Charlie) Johnson of Ketchikan; David (and Shayla) Sulser of Juneau; David Frank of Wrangell; Derek Rennie, Mashaya, Chloe, Dylan and Gatzby Sulser, all of Sitka; Ronald (and Lisa) Howard and Terri (and Tom) Brown all of Friday Harbor, Washington; Kathleen (and Stan) Vanderpool of Lynden, Washington; Mark (and Sue) White of Port Angeles, Washington; Steve (and Alice) McIntosh of Spirit Lake, Idaho; Gina White of Winachee, Washington; Janice Phelps of Gillette, Wyoming; Christopher Howard of Houston, Texas; and Shannon Parrish of Truckee, California.

Rhonda leaves behind her only nephew, Shane Howard, of Juneau. 

A graveside service for Rhonda will be held at 1 p.m., Saturday, May 20, at the Craig cemetery, followed by a celebration of life at the Craig Moose Lodge.

Condolences may be sent to: Mike Whitmore, P.O. Box 19457, Thorne Bay, AK 99919.

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