Walter Clark Dies in Mont.; Was Blatchley Principal

Walter Clark

Walter Clark, a former principal of Blatchley Middle School, passed away peacefully at his home in Missoula, Montana, on January 20, 2021. He was 79.

He was born in Missoula, Montana, in 1941 to Robert and Ann Clark. He attended both parochial and public school, graduating from Missoula County High School in 1959. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving for four years, and making lifelong friendships.

Upon his return, he met and fell in love with Cathy of Whitefish, Montana. They were married in 1966. Walt attended the University of Montana and Northern Montana College, earning both a bachelor’s degree in vo-tech education and a master’s degree in education administration.

Walt dedicated his life to enriching the lives of students in Hardin, Montana, as a teacher of auto mechanics, wood working and welding, and then as a principal in Thompson Falls, Montana; Metlakatla and Sitka, Alaska; and Polson, Montana.

As an educator, he earned numerous awards on both the state and national levels for the programs he implemented at his schools. Among his honors were the Milken Educators Award for the state of Alaska in 1991, while he was Blatchley Middle School principal; and the School Administrator Award issued by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. 

Walt was always up for a challenge, whether in the role of teacher, administrator, dad or grandfather. It could be building or fixing things, helping his children or grandchildren with a school project or any other grand plan that he or they concocted. He enjoyed fishing, hunting and working in the garage.

Mostly, he enjoyed time with his family and he adored all of his grandchildren. Walt made a difference; he made this world a better place. “He is the best man we have ever known,” his family wrote. “We will miss his quick wit and mischievous smile. He was our rock. He is in our hearts and he will forever be our hero.

Walt was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Barbara Irlbeck of Wake Forest, North Carolina, who died in the fall of 2020, and by his loyal dog, Tucker. 

Survivors include his wife, Cathy, of Missoula; daughters Peggy Reely, Missoula, and Judy and her husband Michael Swiger of Portland, Oregon; grandchildren Evan and Anna Reely and Trystan and Kailey Swiger; sister Janet and her husband Art Davison, Missoula; brother-in-law Bill Irlbeck, of Wake Forest; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

He will be laid to rest at the Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery. A celebration of life will be held this summe. Anyone wishing to attend, is asked to  reach out to family members with contact information. There will be more family memories posted on Garden City Funeral Home’s website.

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At a Glance

(updated 8-17-22)

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 12:15 pm Wednesday, August 17.

New cases as of Wednesday: 1,444

Total cases (cumulative) statewide – 277,007

Total (cumulative) deaths – 1,296

Total (cumulative) hospitalizations – 3,843

Case Rate per 100,000 – 198.11

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

COVID in Sitka

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

Case Rate per 100,000 – 211.20

Cases in last 7 days – 18

Cumulative Sitka cases – 3,022

Hospitalizations (to date) – 29

Deceased (cumulative) – 7

The local case data are from Alaska DHSS.






August 2002

 Sitka Trail Works Cross Mountain hike will be held Aug. 17. Hikers should meet at the Herring Cove gate for the six- to eight-hour bushwhack adventure hike that ascends 3,500 feet and is rated difficult. Contact Charles or Chris Horan for further information.


August 1972

From Sitka Seine: Delightful is the only word for the floating sensation you get driving around the Maksoutoff Street side of St. Michael’s Cathedral now that the bottomless pits have been filled and paved over.